Beyond your own network and without contracting a talent acquisition agency
Last year, I wrote a post that addresses when to hire your first growth marketer, but a question I get even more often from startup founders is where to find relevant profiles.
The short version: to find a talented growth marketer for your startup, you need to take a different approach to the traditional recruitment process. It's not enough to rely on your network alone and hiring a talent acquisition agency is often too pricey. You'll need to be proactive.
For more details and actionable steps, keep reading.
Why is it so hard to find relevant profiles?
Exploding demand, short supply
The VC funding boom in the last decade led to rising demand for growth marketers, not only in Silicon Valley but all around the world. Growth marketers with a proven track record are highly sought-after.
Difficult to evaluate
Growth marketing is a relatively new function. It lacks industry standards and recognized certifications. Pretty much anyone can call themselves a growth marketer these days, but the quality of work varies a lot. For startup founders, it can be challenging to differentiate good and bad profiles before hiring them.
Early-stage isn’t for everyone
Being a GM1 at an early stage startup is a different ball game than being a GM at a scale-up. As a startup founder, you need to look for profiles that can be autonomous, hands-on, and strive with limited resources. The job description from Levels below is a good example of how to tackle this early in the recruitment process.
Well, so where to find them?
Try LinkedIn Sales Navigator but avoid generic InMails
LinkedIn Sales Navigator allows you to apply advanced search filters. Define your ideal candidate profile and apply some matching filters. Select relevant ones and reach out but avoid generic InMails (leave those to bigger companies using uninspiring recruiting methods). Instead, craft a short, friendly, and personalized message or find a way to get introduced. If they’re not interested or not available they might point you in the right direction.
Be where they hang out
As mentioned in the introduction, the best GMs are highly sought-after which means that they’re not actively looking for a new job. So the best way to catch their attention is to be where they hang out to discuss growth with like-minded professionals.
For example, a few communities I’m part of:
Instead of just sharing a link without context, start a conversation about a growth challenge you're currently facing. Not only will that generate more engagement and provide immediate value, but it could also lead to a genuine discussion with someone well-suited for the role.
Promote your opening on industry-specific job boards
If you didn't succeed to get any leads using the above tips or don't have time, consider promoting your job listing on some job boards dedicated to growth professionals and startups. For example, Demand Curve. These boards attract a more specific audience than LinkedIn and are still less costly than hiring a recruitment firm.
Other examples include:
Talk with career accelerator programs
Programs like Reforge and Growth Tribe help hundreds of professionals to upskill in growth every year. It’s in their interest to help alumni so why not reach out to their team and ask if they know someone currently searching for a growth position?
The growth marketer you’re looking for might already be on your team
I totally agree with Jeff. I've seen several people successfully transition from customer success, engineering, or finance roles to growth leaders.
Early-stage GMs are generalists with a good understanding of marketing, product, and data. Strategies and frameworks can be taught. But you can't really teach cultural fit.
Finding a growth marketer that will be a good fit for your startup isn't an easy task. But by being proactive, using the right touchpoints, and creating a growth culture, you can increase your chances. If you're hiring, I hope this post was helpful!
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My next article will focus on effective go-to-market strategies for startups.
GM: Growth Marketer