How we 10x our investor’s outreach for recruiting

Stacy Alexis Garry

Startup investors pride themselves on being helpful. But have you ever asked your investors if they can help you recruit a candidate? Or better yet, reach out to 100 candidates on your behalf?

We did. And as a result, our investors Alexis Ohanian, Garry Tan, and Stacy Brown-Philpot were able to personally reach out to over 200 truly amazing candidates for us in less than 60 minutes.

Here are the steps we took to unlock this unheard of level of outreach:

It started with a simple question: How can we leverage our investors to recruit the best Senior Product Designer and Director of Marketing for our company (👋🏾 we’re Numero, we build the campaign finance software used to raise more than $832 million last election cycle ).

We could have done the standard tech job posting routine. You know how that goes:

  • Post the open position on job boards with your applicant tracking software
  • Troll through LinkedIn sending drip campaigns to candidates who are sick of the impersonal pitches
  • Ask your investors to help recruit candidates via your investor update to which they rarely reply.

Given the dump truck of capital being poured into tech startups – causing an epic battle for talent – we saw the standard routine as uninspired and ineffective.

Instead, we thought, what if we took a different approach to identify candidates? What if we treated each person to a personalized experience that gives them a glimpse into the creativity and magic that we put into Numero for our own clients?

Would that yield a more diverse and higher-quality group of people to apply for our Director of Marketing and Senior Product Designer roles?

We decided it’s worth a shot, and so our personalized job postings and deep fakes went from an idea to reality.

Here’s how we leveraged several different no-code tools to do it:

Step 1: Identify high-quality Senior Product Designers and Directors of Marketing

We started our search on Twitter by looking for people who not only followed some of our investors – Alexis Ohanian, Garry Tan, and Stacy Brown-Philpot – but also followed design or marketing twitter handles such as Figma, AirBnbDesign, BlacksWhoDesign, HubSpot, or GrowthHackers.

Using FollowerWonk, we then narrowed the list down to about 1,000 candidates per investor.

Next, we combed through Twitter bios, portfolio sites, and tweets to identify the folks who impressed us with their experience or designs. We also looked for people who showed an interest in areas such as politics or even crypto and NFTs – areas into which we’ll be expanding.

Step 2: Build a custom job application page for each person

We designed the basic page in Figma and then built a content management system (CMS) in Webflow. The CMS allowed us to display custom copy, greet the candidate by name, and share a personalized synthetic video (dep fake) from the investor the candidate follows on twitter.

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Step 3: Generate a personalized greeting video from the investor the candidate follows

We worked with Tavus to record personalized synthetic videos from our investors. For the software to learn their voices and facial expressions, our investors had to read a 15 minute script to collect training data. Then they recorded two separate videos, one for the Director of Marketing and one for the Senior Product Designer. We then sent the full list of the candidates and they produced a unique video for each of them. We made sure to label it as a synthetic video which we think is important when using this technology.

Step 4: Expose our software, expose our culture

We’re big fans of critical feedback. We already ask for it from our customers and our teammates. So why not also ask for it from our future teammates as part of the application process?

To invite feedback, we used Navattic to display an interactive version of our software and asked the candidates to roast the design, the copy, and anything else they had feedback on.

We then leveraged the beta Loom SDK to capture the feedback, which allowed us to put a record button on our application to record the candidate’s roast of our software.

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Step 5: Submit your application without leaving the page

We spend so much time optimizing our landing pages for conversion, yet when it comes to our most important conversion – recruiting amazing teammates – we send them to some generic, third-party job site with a terrible interface.

Luckily, our awesome applicant tracking software (and fellow YC batchmate), Ashby, has a really good API. We could add a form to the personalized page that submits an applicant’s roast video from Loom, contact details, and portfolio or LinkedIn pages directly into Ashby. That made it super simple for us to follow up with those who apply.

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Step 6: Make a great first impression

To deliver the personalized job posting, our investors are personally sending each of the candidates a DM on Twitter.Getting a DM with a link from someone you follow on Twitter is nice, but your first impression of what they’re sending is made with the preview image of the link they send you. Mindful of that, we used BannerBear and Airtable to create a unique OpenGraph social image (the preview image you see when someone texts or DMs you a link) for each personalized application page.

This step may seem like overkill, but we value people who consider themselves artisans – those who sweat every pixel and every digital interaction because they have an immense amount of pride in their work. They’ll notice those details, and they are the exact people we want to work with.

How did the pages turn out?

Describing the pages just doesn’t do them justice. That said, here are example pages of a few people we admire:

And if you’re inspired to apply while browsing through the pages, go ahead and apply right from either page – we’d love to hear from you!

Did it work?

We just started interviews. When asked why they applied, they say they’re blown away by the personalized experience. 

If you don’t happen to follow Alexis, Stacy, or Garry, you’re inspired by who we think and build product, and want to join our team or have a friend who should apply, we want to hear from you! Please do share this post or apply via one of the links below:

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