How to Hire Without an HR Team by Mile Živković on Jul 12, 2018

One of the most crucial points determining a company’s success is its human resources department. Unfortunately, for many companies, having an HR team or even a recruiter is not feasible. Startups with only a handful of employees can’t afford to bring on additional team members to take care of their hiring. At the same time, every hire you make in a small team could make or break your company’s success.

However, it’s absolutely possible to hire without a recruiter or an HR team – here’s how you can do it without spending much time and money.

Automate as much of the hiring process as you can

Both the candidates and the employers know that sometimes, it can take far too much time to get a new employee on board. Across nations, the average time to hire is 23.7 days. This is not to say that HR teams are not doing a good job or that great workers are impossible to find. It simply means that the current hiring methods are tedious and time-consuming and require at least a recruiter, if not a whole team of HR experts. Luckily, many aspects of hiring can be automated.

Resumes have been one of the staples of the hiring process. However, they’re not exactly accurate and reading through hundreds to thousands of CVs per job position can take weeks. To combat this, software companies have come up with applicant tracking software (ATS) solutions that pre-scan candidates according to keywords. However, ATS systems aren’t that great of a solution either.


Using Hundred5, you can create a skills-based test that your applicants can take before even submitting their CV or basic information. For example, you can test developers on their knowledge of code or marketers on their knowledge on conversion rate optimization. The candidates get the results immediately, and the employer knows who’s a good fit from the start. In this way, no time is wasted on unqualified applicants – or reading through a pile of CVs.

At some point, you will need to do some background checks. By using Hundred5, you will only be left with a handful of candidates at this stage – so you can hire without a recruiter. However, you can automate this as well, using an automated reference checker.

Some businesses prefer to handle all their hiring efforts through emails. While there are much more effective ways to handle applicants, you can still make this easier on your team. First, ensure that you have a separate email address just for job applications.

Second, make sure to list a specific term that needs to go to the subject field of the applicants’ emails. This can be anything from the job reference number to a quote from ‘How I Met your Mother.

Additionally, it’s a good idea to set up an auto-response to let your applicants know they’ve gotten through to you.

Read on: 10 Methods for Screening Candidates – Which Is The Most Efficient

Use the job ad as a filter

Many companies underestimate just how efficient a proper job advertisement can be. It can persuade the right candidates to apply while discouraging the wrong ones from sending in their resume and motivation letter.

By writing a performance-based job ad, you can kill two birds with one stone. First, you clearly lay out the duties in a given role so candidates have a good idea of what awaits them in case they’re hired. Second, by outlining what it means to succeed in a role, you motivate those candidates who look for more than a monetary incentive in their potential new job.

However, you can overdo it as well. If you make your job add too complicated, filled with jargon, technically difficult (forms, sheets, application letters), you are doing yourself a disservice. A job ad that is too much of a hassle to complete will put off candidates that would otherwise be a great fit.

Source: Agencycentral

In one research, applicants listed the reasons why they didn’t finish their job application process. A total of 60% listed tech issues, 55% said they stopped the application because they couldn’t upload their CV, while 20% dropped off because the application could not be filled out on mobile.

In order to hire without a recruiter or HR team, you need to devote more time to your job ad than you would usually. It needs to strike a perfect balance of informative, engaging and easy to apply to.

Besides your job ad, you should always keep your Careers page on your website up to date. Even if you don’t have any openings at a given point in time, you can leave a message such as “We don’t have any openings at the moment, but if you think you could be a great addition to our team, feel free to reach out to us using this email”.

In this way, you’ll be able to get details from candidates who are deeply interested in your company and you can slowly build up a database of (potentially) great applicants. Who knows – you may unearth a few gems in the process.

Use employee referral programs

If you don’t have a large HR team, why not make your entire workforce into one? Employee referral programs are initiatives where your current employees refer someone they know for an opening at your company.

If the person they suggested gets hired, they get a bonus in whichever form you prefer, be it monetary compensation, extra days off or anything you may imagine. As it turns out, this is a great way to get some new talent onboard.

Studies show that employees from referral programs have the highest in retention rates at 46% after one year. This means that 46% of those hired in referral programs will stay at their job, compared to 33% coming in from job boards and career sites.

Employees from referral programs have the highest in retention rates.

Conversely, referrers also stay longer at their jobs. As studies have shown, those workers who refer people to come to your company will stay longer than those people who haven’t referred anyone.

Moreover, people hired from referral programs are quicker to onboard. They start their jobs 29 days after hiring on average, compared to 39 days from job boards and 55 from career sites.

Finally, there is familiarity as a huge plus for your employees. Being able to choose your coworkers and the people you drink your first morning coffee with will ensure higher levels of employee satisfaction and a better work culture – but more on that later on.

Discuss the salary early on

As we’ve written before, one of the principles of performance-based hiring is to discuss the salary in the final stages of the hiring process. While this is a great practice to find applicants who aren’t motivated by compensation only, it may not be that helpful if you’re looking to cut down on hiring time and resources.

Has it ever happened to you that you apply for what seems to be the perfect job, go through the screening and several rounds of interviews, only to find out that the company’s idea of the salary is completely different from yours?

If you mention the salary early on, you’ll discourage those who don’t agree with the salary from applying. As small teams and startups cannot afford to pay boatloads of cash, it’s better to be realistic from the start instead of wooing candidates until the interview stage.

It’s better to be realistic with the salary from the start instead of wooing candidates until the interview stage.

At the same time, if you offer a salary that’s fairly high, you’ll attract candidates that are after the salary only. However, for the purposes of filtering candidates before their applications even start rolling in, it’s best to use salary as another filter.

Save time on interviews

Anyone who’s ever had to hire a new employee knows that interviews can be extremely time consuming. For this reason, it’s advisable to keep them for the very end of the hiring process. For example, the crew at Toggl only invites the final 4-5 candidates to have a chat before making a decision.

Make sure that interviews are performed online, using services such as Skype or Zoom. If candidates have to come in person, they may have to take time off their current jobs or commute.

You can make the process considerably easier by having one-way interviews, too. Simply prepare a list of questions for the candidate to answer to and have them record and send them in. Needless to say, this is not as good as a one-on-one interview, but you can get a feel for the candidate’s personality and attitude without actually spending half an hour interviewing them during business hours.

Use LinkedIn (for free)

What better way to look for new people to hire than a social media network dedicated to that specific purpose? LinkedIn has been one of the best places to scout new talent for years now, and recruiters are some of its most active users. They scour profiles, groups and networks to find the best fit for your company based on your criteria. However, we need to hire without a recruiter or an HR manager.

The easy route is simply posting a job ad and letting LinkedIn do its magic of getting in front of the right people. Trouble is, there’s no guarantee that it will get you the kind of candidates you want. On top of that, there’s a little issue of money.

LinkedIn job ads are paid by the number of clicks you get from viewers. That’s viewers, not applicants. The cost is anywhere from $2 to $5 per click, and if you have several job openings at a time which get thousands of views each, the bill can get pretty steep. However, you can do something similar – for free.

First order of business – go through your own contact list. If you’ve been in your industry for a while, you probably already know a few people who may be a good fit for your opening.

Second, do some digging through LinkedIn groups. These can be a great source of candidates, as they’re places where professionals exchange ideas, ask for solutions to business problems and in general, show their expertise. Your next great hire may be out there, showing someone how to get out of a business rut.

Finally, you can get sneaky and research your competitors. Under every company profile, you can easily see its employees and their roles. Often times, companies don’t list their teams on their website, but the employees do list their position on LinkedIn. You can leverage this to get an inside scoop of a hidden gem in someone else’s ranks.

Hopefully, Google is not your competitor.

The disadvantage of using LinkedIn to enhance your hiring efforts is that the bulk of it is manual work and you’ll have to spend copious amounts of time finding the right people. The upside is that once you do find them, you don’t have to ask for a resume – it’s already there on their profile.

Use Twitter and Facebook (for free)

Even though these two social networks are unlikely sources for finding new employees, with a little bit of creativity, you can attract lots of quality applicants.

If you’re wondering whether someone would actually use Twitter to look for work – you might be pleasantly surprised. With its 330 million active users each month, it is a great place to cast your bait and wait for the fish to come in. And they will come – a surprising 52% of job seekers say that they use Twitter to look for work.

52% of job seekers say that they use Twitter to look for work.

With the right combination of hashtags, tweet intervals and search terms, you can easily find some absolutely amazing candidates on Twitter – without paying a dime. If you’re looking for a detailed instruction on how to hire using Twitter, check out this blog post.

Facebook is another unlikely source of great candidates, as it has 2.1 billion active users and is by far the most popular social media network of today. There are tons of perks to sourcing candidates on Facebook, which you can find out by visiting this article. However, the biggest value to advertising on this network is probably the cost. If you create and advertise your job post, you can get candidates for under $1 per click – which is incredible value considering that you are getting highly qualified leads.

Make candidates come to you – build a great culture

When you think of a company that’s great to work for, a lot of people immediately think of Google. However, why is that the case? The search engine giant has not gained the title of the most desirable place to work by simply forking out huge paychecks. And this is not a one-time fluke either – Google held the title for 6 years, from 2011 to 2017.

Instead, Google has focused on building culture. Some of the reasons why employees tout Google so much is because it’s actually a place that’s great to work in – it has great work culture. Some of the perks include on-site health care and hairdresser, an office bowling room, three meals per day, designated places for napping and much more.

Source: xkcd

Word travels fast that a company’s a great place to work in, and this could be the biggest talent magnet for your company. In order to hire without a recruiter or an HR team, you can simply redirect those funds to a great healthcare plan or a bonus for your employees. In the long run, it will affect your hire rate, and especially your turnover.

However, if you can’t afford (or don’t need) a recruiter because you run a small startup, you probably don’t have the assets to build a great work culture either. Some of the ways you can entice people to apply to work at your startup include offering stock options, a challenging working environment and an opportunity to greatly influence the direction where the company is headed.

Finally, culture not only helps you hire, but also retain great workers. In a recent study, it was shown that companies with a good work culture had an employee turnover of 13.9% compared to 48.4% in companies with a bad work culture.


The ultimate question is – can you really hire without a recruiter or an HR manager? Absolutely yes, using the tactics mentioned here. However, if you’re planning to grow your company considerably, you should consider putting together an HR team at some point, as they provide value and expertise beyond the hiring process.

Are you looking to kickstart your hiring efforts? Using Hundred5, you can automate your screening and save hours of time and thousands of dollars by testing candidate skills as the first part of the hiring process. Start today so you too can hire without a recruiter or HR manager.

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