How To Maximize Your Impact as a Lean Recruiting Team

Delivering a stellar candidate experience is no small feat for a lean recruiting team at a fast-paced startup. Here’s what you should prioritize to improve efficiency in your hiring process and make life easier for your candidates, your hiring managers — and yourself.

By Iterate Team
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7 minute read

The value of a positive candidate experience can’t be overstated when it comes to things like hiring the best talent and cultivating a glowing reputation among the workforce — but pulling it off as a lean (if not one-person) recruiting team can be tricky, especially at a fast-paced startup.

When you consider that a positive candidate experience makes an applicant more likely to accept your job offer — or that a reputation for poor candidate experience could deter top talent from applying to your company — it’s safe to say that any time you spend on candidate will improve efficiency on your small team, and even count towards the other hiring goals and priorities on your plate.

But how do you put this into practice while actively recruiting at a busy startup — with minimal time, budget, and hands on deck to help you out?

Get more hours out of your work day with clear priorities.

If you're a lone recruiter or part of a lean in-house team, you’re probably responsible for posting job listings, candidate outreach, reviewing and processing inbound applications, sharing updates with candidates — including feedback and rejections — and of course, sending out the offers when all goes well.

And all of these day-to-day activities shape the perception of your candidate experience and by extension, your employer brand. No pressure!

The key to making sure it all goes off without a hitch is optimizing your daily tasks for the most efficient use of your time — and that begins with a clear view of what you need to prioritize to deliver the basics of a quality candidate experience.

Here are some things you may want to prioritize if you’re looking to make an outsized impact as a lean recruiting team:

1. Block time in your calendar for candidate communications

As reported by Indeed's Recruitment Outlook 2022, regular communication between candidates and employers had a 54% positive impact on candidate experience — so you don’t want this to fall between the cracks of a busy day.

Rather than a reactive approach to candidate communications, you might consider blocking some time on your calendar daily to handle each type of message or followup. This protects two of your most valuable resources — your time and attention — and helps structure your day around a non-negotiable aspect of the candidate experience.

2. Templatize everything you can.

Developing templates, cheat sheets, and resources to support all parties involved in recruitment throughout the end-to-end hiring process is a great way to scale up your outputs and ensure you’re not reinventing the wheel for each new hire.

By taking the time to anticipate and prepare some answers to the most common questions you hear from applicants and hiring managers, you win back time in the long run by reducing friction and redundant communication.

Whether it’s a PDF candidates receive before their first phone screen to outline the recruiting process and timeline at your company — or a quick and dirty checklist for new hiring managers — creating self-serve resources to support your recruiting stakeholders asynchronously will take some pressure off on your busiest days, and even serve as a valuable knowledge base for when your lean team grows over time.

3. Save time vetting applications with better fit candidates.

On a small recruiting team, referrals can be your best work friend. Rather than spend a disproportionate amount of time trawling through pages of poor fit candidates, consider using your professional network to source referrals for the most qualified candidates — and asking encouraging your hiring managers to do the same.

Another great way to zero in on the best fit candidates for a role is creating a public org chart to make sure they understand not only what it would be like to work at your company, but on the specific team of the role they’re applying for. A glimpse into how departments and teams are structured at your company (and who exactly is part of them) can help candidates decide if your opportunity is their top choice — or if they may not be such a great fit after all — which can speed up your hiring process and help you part ways sooner.

4. Manage expectations upfront by making vital info transparent.

The recruiting process is full of variables, all of which can throw off your timelines and lead to delays — and only some of which are possible to control.

On the candidate's side, you can save a lot of time by being transparent about salary ranges in your job posts, and being forthcoming about what the interview process entails during your very first conversation. Transparency saves everyone time — especially if you know what a candidate expects is a non-starter. You don't want to discover that the candidate is unable to complete a required assignment for a late-stage interview at the eleventh hour — or learn in the middle of salary negotiations that the candidate's expectations are misaligned with your offer.

At a fast-paced startup, you can expect your hiring managers to be just as busy as you are, so it’s a good idea to solve for variables in their bandwidth before interviews begin to ensure that competing deadlines or vacation schedules won’t be an obstacle in the hiring process. You might consider asking them to commit to a one or two week window where they prioritize interviews above all else — and hold off on bringing candidates into the interview process until they’re able to do so.

5. Set new hires up for success with robust onboarding resources.

At the intersection of new hire productivity and retention, onboarding can make or break the candidate experience. The Human Capital Institute cites a few reasons why new hires quit, including unmet expectations from the hiring stage, a need for more clarity on their role, and too few development opportunities.

To keep new hires engaged and encouraged, consider making your company’s org chart the backbone of your onboarding process — and treat it like a living document that evolves alongside your company.

A bird’s eye view of everyone at the company can help answer common onboarding questions before they’re asked, and point new joiners in the right direction when they need to track down specific info from other teams and departments.

It also boosts motivation by giving everyone visibility into how their work contributes to business objectives no matter when they joined, and can help employees visualize their path to career growth in your org — ultimately keeping them with you longer.

6. Identify areas of improvement with candidate feedback.

Any candidates who interact with your company are full of valuable insights about where you should focus your energy, regardless of whether they got the job. Rather than take your best guess at how to maximize your impact, why not ask candidates for feedback on what could be improved in your hiring process?

Directly asking candidates about their experience with your company can be uncomfortable for both parties involved — and even compromise the level of honesty in the candidate’s feedback. Simple surveys that grant candidates anonymity are a great way to go, and there’s no shortage of candidate experience survey templates to help you get this up and running.

The number of survey responses you need to derive meaningful results will vary for each organization, but before long you’ll be able to spot patterns in candidates’ answers.

When you let candidate feedback guide the incremental improvements you make to your hiring process, you can rest assured that your efforts will have an impact.


Ready to level up your candidate experience and build a glowing reputation among the workforce? It’s time to add your company to The Org, where candidates go to view your org chart, peek behind the scenes of your work environment, explore your teams, and apply for available jobs.

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