Many founders describe hiring and recruitment as the most important part of their job. SaaSEAD spoke to Laurens van Nues, Founder and Managing Director of Magnet.me, the largest graduate career network and job site in the Netherlands and UK, on how they provide a smarter approach to connecting talented graduate students with jobs they love.
The Graduate Connection
Now housed on the top floor of a renovated industrial complex in Rotterdam, the business was started by Vincent Karremans, from Erasmus University, together with van Nues and Freek Shouten, who were studying 30 minutes northwest at the notorious Technical University to Delft. Coming on graduation from their masters programs, the founding team was exposed to the apparent randomness of the job search, where a few big companies in industries like consulting took a scattershot approach of online listings and on-campus recruiting to sourcing and approaching talent. Making a better match between a graduate’s skills and the needs of hiring firms seemed sensible.
Using relationships to the recruiters who had chased them for years, the founders were able to pitch their platform to blue chip companies early on and gain traction. Finding the initial applicant pool took a bit of hustle, creativity, and guerrilla marketing. This included large red posters and condoms with the slogan “your career doesn’t begin on a poster” (a tongue in cheek jab at traditional recruiting strategies) and their own plastic currency, “magnets”, which could be exchanged for on-brand sunglasses at local shops.
Elusive Technical Cofounders
For the sake of speed to market, the team partnered up with a development company and gave an equity stake in exchange for a platform. As happens in many of these circumstances, even neighborly outsourcing led to a product that wasn’t quite up to par and ended in disputes, internally and eventually legally.
When asked what he would do differently if given another chance, Laurens mentioned that while simply getting the product out there was important, next time:
- Expend all the resources you can initially trying to bring a decent CTO on board
- If that fails, make sure you do all the diligence on your partner you can, including checking their references *and* their code
- Make sure there’s a breakup clause so things don’t end in court if they go wrong
Liking Your Job
One of the features on the platform that really caught our attention was the “like” function, which allows applicants to express their interest in a listing without applying directly. It appears that in a lot of ways, finding a job is like making friends at the bar; a small indication of interest that recruiters can follow up on leads to a much higher chance of conversion to a full-time position (apparently 10x more effective than cold outreach).
To make assessing companies easier, the team has also brought in professional photographers go out and take pictures of company offices, which can often say more about a work environment than even the most detailed listing. For Laurens, all of these features are about making the, “information flow more efficient” and increasing the chances of a great match.
Advice to New Entrepreneurs
Although it might be awkward or communicated poorly, Laurens recommends always speaking up over staying silent when it comes to strategy and product. Understanding the core value proposition by being introspective and critical, as well as “knowing how much you don’t know”, is crucial to growth. Founding teams need to be able to hold different points of view and stick together, which means having a culture of openness and trust.
Current Media Diet!
– Read Sapiens: A Brief history of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari (link)
– Listen Waking Up Podcast with Sam Harris (link)
– Listen Inside Intercom (link)
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