How to hire a good growth hacker for your startup

Once your startup takes off, one of the big challenges you’re going to face is finding talented employees capable of driving its growth. Startup marketing is very different to traditional marketing, and thus you’ll need to take a slightly different approach. Here are some tips on how to hire a skilled growth hacker.


1. Reversed approach 

This excellent tip comes from Noah Kagan, co-founder of AppSumo and Instead of going the standard route – wasting time with CVs and interviewing people to identify qualities you seek, do it the other way around.


Look for campaigns, adverts, marketing tactics, and work you admire the most and identify which marketer did them. Then contact that person or ask them for referrals.

2. Ask respected growth hackers for referrals

Referrals from other growth experts that have a great reputation are another great way to find a talented person. So, instead of hiring a recruitment consultant, look up some of the most respected people in the community and ask them for referrals. Contact the companies you respect the most or if you’re funded ask your investors for introductions.


3. Hire from companies you admire

Identify companies you respect the most, then check out who works for them. A great pool of candidates already exists in the large technology companies such as Facebook, Quora, LinkedIn, and Twitter.


This method of hiring is common. Uber hired people from Facebook; WealthFront hired from LinkedIn etc.


4. Read their blog

Most startup marketing people do some form of blogging. Read their thoughts and analysis on marketing and product. But be careful, anyone can blog about some generic Facebook marketing tips. You should look for original ideas, deep analysis, and strong creativity.

5. Look for the culture fit

In one of his presentations, Rand Fishkin makes a great point. Culture fit being a better predictor of a good hire than skills alone. In an ideal scenario, you want people with both, skills and culture fit. However, if the profession is in high demand, you struggle to find such people.


Fishkin argues that in such scenario, most companies go for the skills. That is a not the best choice. You can train the skills, but you can’t really change people.


6. Hire for the mindset, not the toolset

Growth marketing is about the right mindset, not the toolset. A lot of stuff growth marketers do, may be completely new. Andrew Chen provides a great definition: “A tech startup doesn’t want awareness. It wants users, customers, clients. A growth hacker’s job is to hack that growth together, through any means possible: A/B tests, landing pages, viral factor, email, and open graph.”


7. Ignore LinkedIn resumes

Frankly, most LinkedIn resumes are a fraud. I get hundreds of endorsements from people I don’t even know. Likewise, I got across people claiming fake titles and references.


8. Beware of assholes

According to Robert Sutton, a professor of Management Science at Stanford, assholes are people who display dishonest, manipulative, belittling, or egocentric behaviour. You should avoid them at all costs no matter the value they bring.

 9. Look for creative problem solvers

Today, marketers have access to far more data than they can ever hope to use.  What sets great growth marketers apart is how they wrangle that data into a good, testable, hypothesis and how they validate that hypothesis with an efficiently executed test.


10. Look for metrics and objective driven people

Best growth marketers ask for objectives and can back their work with data. They also focus on meaningful metrics. Today’s tech startups have an overabundance of data – a good growth marketer can filter the nonsense and focus on data that is useful and actionable.


This article originally appeared on Appster’s Blog.

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Mark McDonald is the co-founder and co-CEO of Appster, a leading mobile app and product development company with offices in Melbourne and San Francisco. He writes for StartupSmart about entrepreneurship, growing a startup and personal branding.