The traditional hiring process is cumbersome—you post a job description, screen applicants, go through recruiters, and endure multiple long interview processes. It's high risk, high cost.
Guerrilla hiring—posting about jobs on social media and leveraging non-traditional recruiting tools—is part of the larger trend of the informalization of work.
Leveraging your network to find jobs and hire is nothing new. But as remote work removes geographical barriers to employment, it means your audience and reach also become your talent pool.
Ernie Park is an engineering leader who has built growth teams at HubSpot and Brex. This post originally appeared on Part-Time Tech—subscribe for trends and tips on how you can go part-time in tech.
Traditional hiring processes are slow, a volume game, and it’s hard to stand out. You write a generic job description, post it on your careers site, LinkedIn, some relevant job boards, and hope you get a few good applications amidst a sea of bad fits. You reach out to your network and hope to get warm leads.
Guerrilla hiring on the other hand, is an informal way of hiring that leverages your existing brand and social networks to target your ideal talent pool. It avoids typical interview processes in favor of portfolios and evidence of past work.
The ‘battleground’ for guerrilla hiring is where people spend their time online: social networks. These Twitter posts from popular entrepreneurs Sam Parr and Shaan Puri, are prime examples of guerrilla hiring:
Some guys posted on Twitter for some jobs, so what?
It’d be easy to dismiss these tweets as some one-offs, but I believe it’s part of a larger trend so significant I had to make up a phrase for it: the informalization of work. Within our lifetimes, we’re seeing our perception of work redefined and become less formal across many different variables. It’s best understood by comparing formal vs informal work:
🤵🏻 Formal work
- Slow to hire. The process is cumbersome and takes long. Post a job description, screen applicants, go through recruiters, long interview process.
- Full-time only. High risk, high cost. May not fit your needs or budget given the overhead.
- Monogamous. Employees devote loyalty to one company only. The stakes are high for both sides. Work on the side is discouraged.
- Cares about appearances: Sit in an office (or Slack, or Teams) and be judged on time, pedigree, your literal appearance, and other weak signals.
🏄🏾♂️ Informal work
- Hire fast. Leverage brand, network, connections to reach a targeted audience. Make faster decisions based on proof of work.
- All types of employment arrangements. Full-time, part-time, hourly, commission, contract, contract-to-hire, etc. Use whatever fits your situation the best. You have maximum flexibility to make sure employer and employee needs match.
- Ployamorous. As long as there is no conflict of interest, employees can use their skills for many companies. Employees can diversify their work portfolio, build their network, and get a variety of experiences.
- Show don’t tell: Cares more about results, outcomes, and proof of work than hours, your resume, pedigree, or other traditional markers.
Why is this happening now?
Leveraging your network to find jobs and hire is, of course, nothing new. But as remote work removes geographical barriers to employment, it means your audience and reach also become your talent pool.
Savvy entrepreneurs realize this and are leveraging one of their most important assets: their social followings.
Many smart tech companies have realized this and started to purchase media companies and assets in addition to growing social followings. If you’re Elon, you can just buy a whole platform.
However, media assets are not just about product distribution and marketing but job distribution and marketing as well.
Guerrilla Hiring 🤝 Part-Time work
The rise in part-time work is a perfect fit for guerrilla hiring. Many people who would be open to part-time roles are NOT looking for a job. They’re off the market entirely. But find talent where they’re already spending time on your media assets with a compelling guerrilla pitch, and they just might be interested. How do I know? Well, when I saw this tweet as I was scrolling Twitter:
I applied for the job on the spot. Still waiting for a response though!
This seems like it’s just for entrepreneurs and not my serious formal company
Maybe it is today, but innovation and disruption usually happens from below. Startups are already guerrilla hiring to match the way the best talent will want to find jobs. They’ll start taking more and more of the talent pie as the big incumbents stay stuck in the past.
Of course, not every job will be filled this way, but guerrilla hiring is another extremely valuable tool in the competitive process of company building.
How you can take advantage of informal work
As an employee:
- 📁 Build a portfolio and brand. This doesn’t mean you have to do some cringey humblebrags on LinkedIn or post all over Twitter, but having some evidence and online presence showing your work is hugely valuable. Write about what you’re good at.
- 🕸 Network. Networking isn’t standing around awkwardly at a conference anymore. It’s finding people with similar interests and finding ways to help each other. Find keywords on LinkedIn, Twitter, or wherever else that match your skills and reach out to people with common interests. Offer them your insights, learn from them, and you’ll be surprised at the opportunities and connections that are made.
As an employer:
- 🦍 Start guerrilla hiring. Build your brand and network, both personal and corporate, to advertise non-traditional roles. Creativity and informality can be a positive signal. Find recruiters and hiring managers who are willing to be creative. Be scrappy. Where does your target talent pool spend time? Does someone really need a resume or do you just want to see that they’re really excellent at certain skills?
- 🛠 Leverage part-time roles where appropriate. Be flexible in the types of roles you offer. Not everything needs to be full-time. Use job boards and explore whether different work platforms to hire contractors or other freelancers may be useful.