Lluís Cañadell
Expert Contributor

5 Tips to Hire People for Your Startup in Latin America

By Lluis Cañadell | Thu, 07/07/2022 - 15:00

Hiring startup talent is very hard in Latin America. One might think that now that there has been a funding slowdown in private markets and a general hiring freeze plus layoffs in the startup world, it will get easier. That will be true in some other markets but not in Latin America. As startups are looking carefully at their burn to increase runway, the idea of hiring more affordable Latin America talent has become even more attractive for startups in North America. Paradoxically, the shortage of talent in the region, especially technical talent, is expected to intensify.

Here are five tips for hiring talent that I have learned by hiring over 300 people in under a year as co-founder at Treinta.

1. PR targeting talent

If you can position your startup as one of the most exciting and fastest growing in the region, this will be your biggest asset. In early 2021, Treinta was growing extremely fast but no one knew because we had never done any PR. After raising our seed round, we began getting our name out there and the quality of inbound candidates skyrocketed immediately. Not all channels will have the same effect, traditional media will likely not be the best option. Do you want to know where candidates will find out about you? Ask your current employees what media they consume. It will typically be LinkedIn posts, founder podcasts and fundraising announcements in business outlets.

2. Emphasize stock options

In the US, most people working in startups are aware of how stock options work. In Latin America, stock options are a big unknown for most people. People know they exist but do not know how they really work. If you are able to offer compelling stock option packages and convey effectively during the offer stage how they work, it can be a massive competitive advantage for your startup. Everyone at Treinta has stock options, including interns and customer service representatives. In contrast, the majority of Latin American talent working for American startups will not have stock options.

3. Leverage internal networks

The talent ecosystem in Latin America is relatively small compared to other more mature markets. Talent is concentrated in a relatively small set of courses, schools and companies. The good news is that you can take advantage of that reality. If you hire a great engineer, data scientist or growth specialist, he or she will definitely know more great engineers, data scientists or growth specialists. At Treinta, we created a referral program that offered above-average bonuses for referrals. The impact was extraordinary. At some point, 40 percent of new hires had been referred.

4. Make everyone a recruiter

At Treinta, we have an offer rate of 0.3 percent from application and 8 percent from the interview stage. The recruiting process is our most important process. Making this possible demands a lot of resources. I have found that the best way to do this is by making every manager a part-time recruiter. During hiring periods at Treinta, 20 percent of a manager’s time had to be dedicated to hiring: sourcing, interviewing, defining job descriptions, setting strategies with recruiters, sending out offers, etc. This will add quality and efficiency to the process, giving you an edge to hire talent.

5. Fast interview process

Ninety percent of our positions require either three or four interviews before we get to the offer stage. The median time between first interview and offer is 72 hours at Treinta. We have won an immense number of candidates because of this policy. To make this possible, every hiring manager needs to have available slots in their agenda for interviews every day.

Photo by:   Lluís Cañadell