Hiring marketplaces can be a great source of high-quality candidates as you scale, but we recommend you use them only as a Plan B behind in-network hires in the early days.

In practice, most early-stage companies don't find success with the marketplace model due to several downsides (cost, fit, less likely to close). If you decide to use a hiring marketplace, make sure you have the money to do so, do heavy pre-qualification, and use a platform like Triplebyte that also helps with the technical screening.

Potential downsides of hiring marketplaces

While hiring marketplaces can be a good source of high-quality candidates that are looking now, they have a few downsides:

If you aren’t careful, you’ll spend a lot of time interviewing candidates that never close. If you do finally close someone, you’ll spend a hefty fee. For these reasons, we always recommend starting with your network.

Pre-qualifying hiring marketplace candidates

The key with Hired or Triplebyte is to do qualification early on to filter out candidates who will never join your startup in the first place. In this case, what you’re looking for are candidates who have a high risk-appetite, care less about cash comp, want to learn, and wear many hats.

While it’s always important to do discovery early, the types of things you’re trying to get signal on will be slightly different for Triplebyte candidates. Essentially, spend less time getting signal on how good they are (Triplebyte should already give you a base-line here) and spend more time testing for how serious they are about joining your startup. This is all about asking the right questions in your initial conversation:

“What types of opportunities are you considering?”

“We’re a small startup. Have you thought about the tradeoffs of joining a small startup vs. a bigger company like Stripe?”

Moving forward vs. qualifying out

You shouldn’t be doing a hard sell here. If it’s clear the candidate wants to optimize for cash or is risk-averse, that’s fine. Be up-front about the fact that it sounds like a small startup might not be what they’re looking for and offer to be helpful. Qualifying them out quickly is much better than reaching the offer stage only to discover that you can’t compete on cash.

If they start convincing themselves they want to do a small startup and/or convince you they’re serious, this accomplishes two things:

  1. You know they’re serious and can justify spending the time it takes to interview and sell the candidate.
  2. Having them verbalize to you that they’re going to seriously consider a small startup makes the candidate feel more committed to your interview process. There’s something powerful about having the candidate verbalize this themselves as it helps them understand their own rationale and propel them in one direction or another.

Next Steps

<aside> 🏠 Back ← Back to home here ← 2. Finding & reaching out to candidates here


<aside> ➡️ Next Up → 2e. Agencies here → Skip ahead to the initial sell conversation here → Skip ahead to nurturing passive talent here