• 2018

  • Driving Referrals with NPS

    Referrals are fantastic leads for new customers, revenue and even hires. We’ve all experienced referrals working out nicely. But -alas-, it doesn’t scale… it seems impossible to drive word-of-mouth and referrals. But is it now?

    Successful B2B Startups & Scaleups have one thing in common: they know how to generate leads. They have to, because there’s no “Coca Cola” or “Salesforce” brand yet. Let’s delve into the 3 strategies we already know, before I show you an alternative.

    leadgen strategies

    the 3 common ones

    • inbound strategy where content & thought leadership drive both search engine and social traffic. That traffic converts to leads on-site and then to revenue by self-service or with activation by a Business Development Rep (BDR) or Account Executive (AE)
    • (modern) outbound strategy where prospecting & outreach are done online. Only in lead qualification or demo phase there’s voice or video interaction with a BDR and/or AE.
    • boiler room outbound strategy where prospecting, outreach, lead qualification and selling are all done by phone by men in suits wearing headsets in a cheap office somewhere in a B-location.

    Reading the above bullets you probably went something like…: “Yeah… Uhuh… WUT?!“. Because -you know- we’ve been in the 21st century for a while. But this boiler room strategy is exactly what is going on in a traditional industry like (tech) recruiting agencies. Many Scaleups & Startups still (have to) rely on those agencies to get their vacancies filled. This is unfortunate, because the majority of time and energy within these agencies is spent on cold calling companies and convincing of candidates. Not on the actual finding & matching of talent. But I digress!

    An alternative strategy for intimate ecosystems

    LevelUp provides in-house tech recruiting capacity for fast-growing tech companies in the Netherlands. Digital Marketers evolved into Growth Hackers by borrowing from adjacent specializations, dropping aspects (print/tv/radio ads) and radically changing mindset. We see that next generation of tech recruiters popping up now too. And again, borrowing from adjacent specializations, dropping aspects (cold calling), and radically changing mindset.

    Two things about our business, that enables us to scale word-of-mouth:

    • It’s a tight, homogenous group of clients tend to know and talk to each other
    • Having some sort of Customer intimacy strategy.

    So if you sit in your client’s office for a few days a week, I guess we’re quite intimate.

    100% of our new business is from referral leads

    Our reputation and the referrals that come from it are our single source of new business. We’ve tried outbound strategies, both growth hacking and calling. We spent a lot of time with almost no results. Now we rely solely on inbound leads from referrals and network. The referrals come from investors, from existing clients, from former clients, from government agencies, from freelance recruiters, it’s quite heart-warming actually. Oh boy, It’s beautiful… (ಥ﹏ಥ)

    Customer Loyalty drives referrals

    A referral strategy needs happy, loyal customers.

    If referrals are the single source of new business, then that requires two people talking. Reputation is what others tell about your company when you are not in the room. So you better make that a positive gossip. To get positive gossip, you need a happy customer. So you deliver an excellent service or product (you do that right?). Of course, but that’s not enough. It needs to be better than expected.

    So we could go into all kinds of dark influencing techniques to change expectations while overdelivering. But in our case, the recruiting agency industry has done it for us. The bar is set quite low. (Side note: I do believe it’s very hard to consistently deliver results in hiring when the product you are delivering is a sentient being with an own opinion.)

    Zappos experimented with purposely delivering the wrong shoe size to clients, but stocking the right size in a depot close by. Once clients received the right size within 30 minutes… they were blown away and more happy than they would ever be with the right size immediately. This strategy is untenable and I would advise against it. The point is, that customer happiness is unpredictable and irrational.

    The other point is, Zappos wasn’t optimizing for one happy customer on one single transaction. They were optimizing for customer loyalty.

    Net Promotor Score measures Customer Loyalty

    So we know that it’s not just about the quality of your product or service, and we know that we are all inherently irrational and unpredictable beings. But we know as well that customer loyalty is key to getting in referrals. Instead of throwing our hands up in the air, screaming “It’s no use!”, let’s see how we can measure customer loyalty.

    Enter Net Promotor Score (definition Wikipedia):

    Net Promoter or Net Promoter Score (NPS) is a management tool that can be used to gauge the loyalty of a firm’s customer relationships. It serves as an alternative to traditional customer satisfaction research and claims to be correlated with revenue growth. NPS has been widely adopted with more than two thirds of Fortune 1000 companies using the metric.

    It has to do with the question: “would you recommend us?” that we’ve all received so often already. And it’s no coincidence that these massive companies use it structurally. Because science shows a positive Net Promotor Score is a leading indicator for long-term sustainable growth and shareholder value creation.

    Calculating NPS

    The Net Promoter Score is calculated based on responses to a single question: How likely is it that you would recommend our company/product/service to a friend or colleague? The scoring for this answer is most often based on a 0 to 10 scale.

    The thing is, that the average grade doesn’t tell you a whole lot. Have a look at our customer grade over the past quarters… it fluctuates, but what does it tell?


    customer grade (left) fluctuates somewhat… but what does it tell? [#surveys (right) for significance purposes]

    Well, it doesn’t. However, it is intuitive. Especially if you are in a country with the metric system and you school is as well (thanks Napoleon!).



    The Dutch suck but Adjusted-NPS is for pussies

    NPS for us
    why it’s great
    why it scares us shitless

  • Referrals as the Only Source of B2B Leads

    Referrals are great for generating new revenue. They convert well and are free. But alas: it seems impossible to drive word-of-mouth & referrals. But is it?

    This post is part of a 2-post set, in which I will share how to increase referral-based leads. And how to drive word-of-mouth by measuring NPS. This first blog post goes into common lead generation strategies for B2B Startups & Scaleups. I explain in which situation referral-based leads work best, and how to get more of them. Here we go!

    4 B2B leadgen strategies for Startups & Scaleups

    Successful B2B Startups & Scaleups have one thing in common: they know how to generate leads. They have to, because there’s no “Coca Cola” or “Salesforce” brand yet. So how do they do it?

    3 leadgen strategies you might already know:

    • Inbound strategy where content & thought leadership drive both search engine and social traffic. That traffic converts to leads on-site and then to revenue by self-service or with activation by a Business Development Rep (BDR) or Account Executive (AE)
    • (Modern) outbound strategy where prospecting & outreach are done online. Only in lead qualification or demo phase there’s voice or video interaction with a BDR and/or AE
    • Boiler room outbound strategy where prospecting, outreach, lead qualification and selling are all done by phone by men in suits wearing headsets in a cheap office somewhere in a B-location

    Reading the above you probably went something like…:         “Yeah…         Uhuh…           WUT?!

    The boiler room strategy is mostly abandoned by startups. But still going strong in a traditional industry like that of (tech) recruiting agencies. Many Startups & Scaleups still have to rely on agencies to get their vacancies filled. This is unfortunate, because the majority of time and energy in these agencies is spent on selling. By cold calling companies and convincing candidates, instead of finding & matching of talent. But strangely enough, the strategy apparently still works.

    Strategy #4: Referral based lead generation

    Referral-based lead generation (leadgen) is a strategy that relies on introductions by others. It’s a very specific form of positive word-of-mouth. These introductions can be done by 3 types of ‘others’:

    • Existing customers, which are the obvious source of referrals. It requires them to be both happy and thrilled. More on that later…
    • Trusted institutions are always entities, and usually companies. Their representatives are trusted by proxy, because of the position, reputation or activities of these entities. They are perceived as knowledgeable, independent, objective and/or seen as thought leaders in a space. But not necessarily the experts on your business. For example, we get many referrals from Venture Capital institutions. They need their companies to hire people, they like how our predictable results, but they are not an expert in the field of recruiting. But still, because of their key position in your customer ecosystem, it works
    • Trusted individuals are similar to the institution representatives in the sense that they are human. However, the difference is that they are trusted by your future clients for other reasons. They tend to be experts in the field of your business. They might be competing with you even. But because they are alone, they often come across leads that or not for them. However, it requires a respectful relation.

    100% of our new business is from referral leads

    Our reputation and the referrals that come from it are our single source of new business. We’ve tried inbound as well as outbound strategies. We spent a lot of time with almost no additional results. Now we rely solely on inbound leads from referrals and network. The referrals come from investors, from existing clients, from former clients, from government agencies, from freelance recruiters, it’s quite heart-warming actually. Oh boy, It’s beautiful… (ಥ﹏ಥ)

    Requirements for a referral leadgen strategy

    Being part a tight-knit, homogeneous ecosystem

    There’s two things about a market that makes it easier to scale referral-based leads:

    • Having either a strong customer industry with deep industry knowledge or be a product leader (and disruptively different)
    • It’s a tight, homogenous group of companies that tend to talk to each other a lot

    The first bit increases your chances of creating thrilled, happy customers, and the second bit ensures that messages diffuse and propagate on their own. (pronounce as: “FOR FREE!!”)

    LevelUp provides in-house tech recruiting capacity for fast-growing technology companies in the Netherlands. Digital Marketers evolved into Growth Hackers by borrowing from adjacent specializations (e.g. front-end & UI) , dropping aspects (e.g. print/tv/radio advertising) and radically changing mindset (to a thesis-driven growth mindset).

    We see that next generation of tech recruiters popping up now too. And again, borrowing from adjacent specializations (e.g. content marketing), dropping aspects (e.g. cold calling), and radically changing mindset (to a data-driven and personal approach).

    In our delivery model, we work from our client’s office a couple of days per week. And we usually work with both the founders and their investors. Needless to say, we are quite intimate with our homogenous group of clients. Yay!

    It needs happy, loyal customers.

    Reputation is what others tell about your company when you are not in the room. So you better make that positive gossip. To get positive gossip, you need a happy customer. So you deliver an excellent service or product (you do that right?). But that’s not enough. It needs to be better than expected.

    So we could go into all kinds of black hat influencing techniques to change expectations while overdelivering (like the Zappos example below). But in our case, the recruiting agency industry has done it for us. The bar is set quite low; with the NPS in the Staffing & Recruiting agency being 4, just around the 0 (NPS can go from -100 to 100); whereas the global industry average is 43.

    Side note: I do believe it’s very hard to consistently deliver results in hiring when the product you are delivering is a sentient being with an own opinion.

    Zappos experimented with purposely delivering the wrong shoe size to clients, but stocking the right size in a depot close by. Once clients received the right size within 30 minutes… they were blown away and more happy than they would ever be with the right size immediately. This strategy is grey hat, and untenable on the long term. But the point is, that customer happiness is both unpredictable and irrational.

    The other point is, Zappos wasn’t optimizing for one happy customer on one single transaction. They were optimizing for customer loyalty.

    Wrapping up (for now)

    And that is exactly where the throttle of our referral based marketing is; at customer loyalty, which one can measure with NPS. We’ll go into it in our next blog post, but for now – go check if you are in a market where referral based marketing might work. Have a look whether you are tapping into the potential of both existing and previous customers for referrals. And think about whether there’s other institutions or maybe even groups of individuals that might be great ambassadors for your product or service. That might propagate your value proposition and scale your business.




  • Google for Jobs | The LevelUp Guide

    Read the full pdf publication here

    How it all started

    After their annual assessment, Manpower announced that 46% of U.S. employers are now facing talent shortages, finding it difficult to match their job descriptions with the right candidate.

    In response to this constant challenge, Google is launching Google for Jobs, an initiative based on the already existing Google Cloud Jobs API. It all started when the guys from Google asked themselves the following question:  “How can we create a 10x increase in the number of people hired?”

    In response to this, they started to optimize the visitors experience in order to increase conversion, but then realized something else was needed.

    Most job postings out there have ambiguous titles that are hard to understand or relate to by the job seeker. Therefore, Google Cloud jobs API is the first vertical pre-trained machine learning model from Google, acting like a translator for job titles and making it easier for job seekers to find exactly what they are looking for.

    In a nutshell, the API aggregates clusters of similar jobs (art, fashion & design or business development manager, director, government BD manager) and most importantly, it understands the specific job title, but also synonyms (biz dev, bus. Dev etc), similar roles (brand manager, relations manager), occupation, job category and necessary skills (business development, communications/interpersonal skills etc).


    This product was already launched in November last year and can be used by companies to increase their conversion rate. More info can be found on Google’s official page.

    On the job seeker’s side google for jobs comes to ease the process of finding the perfect opportunity.

    What is Google for Jobs?

    Google for Jobs is an initiative focused on helping both job seekers and employers through collaboration with the job matching industry, letting users explore relevant jobs pulled in from a number of sources, within a single Google search.

    The previous journey of an applicant shown in the chart below showcases how they would need to go back and forth to the main page or to open multiple tabs in order to prospect the available job postings out there. Another major issue (time waster) is that there are always duplicated results that couldn’t be filtered out.

    By making use of the Google Cloud for Jobs API, there are no duplicates in the results list  and the job information is all centralised, allowing prospective candidates to get more information before heading to a specific site to apply.  Google is trying to offer as much information as possible within this search engine, linking back to the original vacancy only with one button.

    How does it work?

    From the back-end side, Google for Jobs removes all unnecessary data in a vacancy and then normalizes the title making it easy to classify. This makes it an easier search by the job seeker, while also labeling it with a confidence score.

    From a front-end side, it promises to be very intuitive.

    As a job seeker, you first type the job you’re looking for. You can then filter the results based on: Category, Title, City, Date posted, Type, Company Type, Employer and even Distance from your current location (as commuting distance has become an increasingly important factor in job choices).

    To create a comprehensive list, Google first has to remove all of the duplicate listings that employers post to all of these job sites. Then, its machine learning-trained algorithms sift through and categorize them. These job sites often already use at least some job-specific markup to help search engines understand that something is a job posting.

    Users can compare job details, refine their search and find out about companies. Here, Google for Jobs applies SEO logic to job postings, meaning that there is only one source per job. If multiple job postings link to the same source, the scoring is based upon improving a few key variables:

    • More metadata (including sectors & disciplines)
    • Less external redirects (integrated ATS and native application process)
    • Strong domain name SEO rank

    There are simple ways to improve a site & job postings’ SEO rank

    • Register with Google Search Console
    • Correctly configured robots.txt file
    • Analytics linked to site
    • Responsive web design
    • No duplication across sitemap content
    • Fast page load time
    • Use noindex/nofollow to prevent certain pages from being indexed
    • AMP enable site’s content pages
    • Maximize inbound links
    • Have a clear content strategy

    Where is Google heading with this?

    Currently the service is only launched in the US, but we could expect it to be coming to Europe around the end of this year. Here’s what we at LevelUp Ventures think you should expect from this.

    In the short term

    • Deeper and more direct integration with Google Hire (their ATS)
    • Might they add an ‘apply’ button and do away with the need for external vacancies all together?
    • More ranking and transparency on employers
    • Elimination of duplicate posts
    • Elimination of organic-search-dominating platforms like Indeed

    And in the long term, a real ‘guns blazing’ approach to job marketing is needed for success. Think growth hacking and cultivating a strong employer brand:

    • Strong content strategy
    • Email marketing campaigns
    • Aggregation partner tactics
    • Editorial integration using intelligent widgets and APIs

    Google is very clear about the fact that it doesn’t want to directly compete with Monster, CareerBuilder and similar sites. It currently has no plans to let employers posts jobs directly to its jobs search engine for example.


    Why should you care about this?

    Because it’s going to come to Europe soon and it’s going to revolutionize the way both recruiters and job seekers approach the job market.

    Because as every early adopter, you would get a head start and will be able to attract the right candidates faster, the ones that are really interested in working for your company and your job posting.

    Share this with your team and let us know what your concerns or general thoughts are.

    Read the full publication here: https://www.docdroid.net/avxDP9h/google-for-jobs-by-levelup-ventures.pdf

    And follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to stay updated 🙂

  • Hiring talent is not about sourcing, it’s about seducing

    As recruiters, we are fighting the day-to-day battle to attract top talent for our customers or employers. As you all know, the process basically consists of sourcing, engaging and hiring/closing. What we have noticed at LevelUp is a shift in “where” the challenge in the process actually is.

    Sourcing is becoming increasingly easy to due to;

    • Better and more available tooling, the expected rise of Google Jobs will also contribute to this.
    • More platforms where candidates can be identified
    • An increase in the usage of these platforms by candidates themselves

    Sourcing is often portrayed as this cool and mysterious skill where highly skilled sourcers can find hidden talent in the unseen realms of the internet using the most complicated boolean searches…

    Wake-up call: most of the time it is quite easy (for generic profiles that is). It does get really hard for super-specialized profiles where there are just a few who possess a certain skill or experience.

    It also gets hard if you are sourcing in multiple “waves”, mostly due to failing to hire, and already have found hundreds if not thousand+ profiles for a position…

    But sourcing for your average developer is pretty straightforward; know which tools to use, how to properly use these (think scraping, think using mechanical turk to do some of the “robot work” for you), and just getting in that “hardcore focus mode” and putting in the hours!

    I would like to take this opportunity to explain the why on this article:

    1. Our mission at LevelUp Ventures is enabling growth and we are aware we cannot service everyone at the same time; by sharing this, we’re living our mission for a broader audience.
    2. We believe in open source
    3. Happy to hear your thoughts and get feedback, so my engaging (and therefore hiring) can get to the next level.
    4. It’s marketing 🙂

    So the shift I was mentioning is all about the engaging of the (passive) candidate, these are my top-learnings;

    Content is key

    The first point of communication is called “the reach-out”, this is the part where you can set yourself apart from the competition. Ideal situation is that the hiring manager (or even CEO/CTO, which is common in start-ups but would be weird with corporates) reaches out him/herself. No one is waiting for a “middle-man” agency recruiter. We should accept that; and use that.

    Data shows that keeping it brief and personalizing your message are the keys to success. Be sure to personalize enough for the reader to know you have actually put some time in checking out who they are but have not done not a whole lot of stalking ;).

    Make sure you speak their language, so a reach-out for a Data Analyst, BusDev Manager or Developer should be totally different (even when it’s recruiting for the same company).

    By using their language I basically mean: try to get it into the details of the job, give them a sneak peek of what’s waiting for them in language a “middle-man” recruiter could not understand because it is simply not his/her field of expertise. Try to test their limits of experience with an in-depth question, but not intimidate them ;).

    Always make sure to include a call-to-action, bot not the “recruiter way” by directly asking for their number or telling them what to do.. Just give them some options (preferable 3 options, our brain loves that) and let them decide themselves what’s the next step.

    Almost forgot the most important one: do not use corporate cliches.

    No one is waiting for a job with “cool atmosphere” or “fun colleagues” or “free beer’” or “lots of responsibility”… we’ll leave all the standardized crap for the corporates to use ok? Thank you.

    And try not to overthink; we tend to start using big complex words once we think too much. How would you explain the job to someone you just met in a bar; use that language.

    Timing is everything

    Ok, so now you have written that awesome reach-out (and maybe even some follow-ups?), and you are ready to send! Next big question that pops up: when are we sending?

    First start-off with some basic reasoning… on which platforms is competition the highest and on which days and times of the week are people usually busy?

    This is basically going to lead you to sending at non-business hours (or trying to engage them in that “bored hour” just after lunch or so).

    And then the platform question… are you going to use InMails? Maybe an e-mail? To their private or business address? Some recruiters even use social media or whatsapp… I think we are not there yet and it is still invasive to do so for now. Emails work better for tech positions, the response rate is 200-300% higher. Commercial people tend to respond to InMail pretty well still.

    Just beware: the content can be awesome but if no one opens your e-mail due to bad timing it has been a waste of time/energy and result. So make sure your timing is perfect!

    Final remarks

    We as recruiters have to realize and accept that the majority of people are just not open.. But if the content was amazing they will let you know (and even give you some compliments for your effort hopefully).

    Most top talent choose a new position based on a relationship. Invest in these relationships now and you’ll be able to harvest later (harder for agency recruiters btw..).

    For all the readers who made it to the bottom part of this post:

    Make sure to A/B test the s*** out of everything I just shared, non of these articles are 100% true and none of these rules are in stone, engaging is an ever evolving job..

    Oh, and the last open door: if you are not tracking all communications within an ATS you might as well start using pagers and fax again.. Remember that ;).

  • [WSF Guest Post] How to get into an accelerator

    Dear founder,

    If you are reading this, you’re probably looking for the magic formula that will get you into an acceleration program.

    This article will prepare you with the insights into what we (accelerators) hope to see from our ideal startup applicants during the selection process. For your convenience, we’ve broken the expectations into three stages: Before applying, First round of selection, Any further rounds of selection, and Due diligence & joining us!   

    Before applying

    Check if you qualify

    Find out what is the screening criteria (check this example). If you don’t meet minimum requirements then ask yourself, “will I get there in 4-6 weeks?”. Note that teams which tick all the boxes will get priority.

    Have clarity on why you are applying

    Our best applicants apply to the acceleration verticals/programs as part of their strategy to go from A to B. Some of the ways you could benefit are one-on-one sessions with experts, personalised mentorship, extensive network access, peer-to-peer learning, investment and deal making readiness/support. Identify which aspects of the program are most important for your team and what precise areas are your priorities to take them to the next level(s). Be ready to discuss them during the selection process!

    Plan your application procedure

    In order to go all the way, you first need to be well informed about the whole process and look for all available information on the accelerator’s website. Different stages will require certain preparation. We also try to provide you with insights at various points during the selection. Being aware of next steps will not only allow you to be well-prepared but also will give you time to work/implement the feedback.

    During the selection process

    Wear your heart on your sleeve

    As accelerators, our bets are on the jockeys! Who is your team? What is your mission? Why are you going to make a difference? And why should it matter? Answer these questions with passion.

    Apply early so we can give feedback

    Should we be convinced of the startup-accelerator match, we are able to kick-off the partnership right away. A lot of acceleration programs are on rolling basis. Why wait when you can get started with the acceleration already, right? Why postpone the important expert or partner introduction session? We’d also like to get to know you and your team really well. We anticipate the same feeling from your side. Let us give ourselves the best chance to do this! Besides, if you don’t make the cut, you’ll have time to work on the feedback and make a stronger case again before the deadline.

    Keep your answers precise

    A good team knows its story, impact and competition; and is able to express them in simple easy-to-understand terms. These are the things we want to understand here. This allows us a chance to get a sneak peak of who you are. The details are for later rounds.

    Avoid exaggeration at all costs

    All our best performing startups have one thing in common- they’re not afraid to be vulnerable when working with us. Your honest answers allow us to have a clear idea of where you stand and how we can provide a personalized program to your advantage. For example, some of your numbers might not be thorough. Being a startup, this is understandable as long as you are explicit about the incompleteness. So say it like it is. Don’t risk your credibility!

    Further rounds of selection

    In this round, the focus is on detail. It might be hard to tell a great application from a good one but it’s always easy to pinpoint a sloppy application. Try and ensure you have enough time to provide all the relevant information via the form of presentation we ask: a video, a slide, a pitch, etc. When unsure, clarify your remarks so you have the best chance of invitation to join the program. Especially give yourselves a head start if you have a lot more homework to do.

    Prove it’s possible, through a great product or service introduction video

    Show us you’ve done the groundwork, when you submit a video/ a slide to showcase the tangible side of your proposition. We’d like to see the functionality and uniqueness here. Need to sign an NDA? Email the contact person.  

    Breakdown the important numbers   

    Are you looking to hire employees? What is the equity split? What’s the revenue forecast? How does your burn rate look like right now? etc. Some of the questions in the information form will test the sustainability of your business. We are not looking for startups with the most optimistic projections. The ideal startups, we expect, would have done their homework and are able to reason how they plan to improve.  

    Highlight the strategy

    While we like unique products, we LOVE great strategies. Refer to the talking points in the carousel. Step 1. Understand your market, competition and growth etc. Step 2. Be prepared to talk about how you’re going to jump the hurdles.

    Leave no loose ends

    We understand, sometimes, the time might not be enough to answer all questions and remarks. Offer to follow up, in case more information is needed to finalise the selection.    

    Due Diligence and joining us!

    Have the necessary documents and information ready to share

    Following the invitation, you’ll go through a due diligence of your company and background checks. This is a standard procedure. You’ll receive a clear checklist and explanation of the procedure.  

    Update as you go

    Do you have a new partner or have struck a good deal? Have you hired a new executive? Did you win a competition? Etc. That’s exciting! Keep us posted with such developments. If you are facing some problems, we would be happy to lend support as well.   

    Be responsive

    From our experience, we know that this is a time taking process. When you co-operate by being swift in your reaction, we can kick-off our partnership at the earliest date. Return all the information and documents in time!

    Other tips

    •        Engage in our open events (see)
    •        Talk to our alumni about their experience

    Hope we were able to clearly manage your expectations. Don’t hesitate to ask any questions you might have during the program. Wish you the best luck!

    This post was written by Aditya Putta, Stakeholder & Startup relations manager at World Startup FactoryApplications are open for World Startup Factory Impact Accelerator 2017! Be fast to apply and get feedback as soon as possible.


  • [Recruitee Guest Post] What Google for Jobs Can Do For You and Your Company

    Candidates apply without reading the job descriptions. You spend time weeding them out. Precious time.

    Job seekers nowadays are confused with the million search results they get. A search for “retail jobs Amsterdam” will show retail jobs, tech support jobs, sales jobs, along with ads for tourists in between. Some of those jobs are in Amsterdam, the Netherlands and some are in Amsterdam, New York.

    With the time and financial pressure to get a job, most job seekers end up applying for all of them. This behavior takes a heavy toll on the employers’ side.

    Big companies like Google is no exception. They receive around 3 million job applications each year. No one is winning, and Google decided to roll up its sleeve to fix the situation. The Cloud Jobs API was born to help job seekers find the most relevant jobs to their search criteria. As a result, companies’ hiring pipelines will be filled with the most relevant candidates to their jobs.

    1—It all starts with the job description

    The number one reason that makes job search so complex is the job titles. One function can have different names in different organizations. “Customer support” can be “customer success” or “customer service.” Each of those can be followed by a wide range of nouns, from normal options like “specialist,” “representative,” “agent,” “manager,” to more adventurous choices like “guru,” “wizard,” and “ninja.” These nuances are just the beginning.

    The number two reason making job search even more difficult is the job descriptions. Despite lots of criticisms, the common job descriptions still live on. Many remain a laundry list where companies write what they don’t mean and mean what they don’t write. “5+ years of experience in JavaScript” usually just means “skilled in JavaScript.” It certainly includes cases like “1 year of experience, but learned JavaScript in 1 month and excelled at it in 6 months.”

    To top this off, there is a level of seniority required for each job. It differs per company and might or might not be stated explicitly in the job description. Even when seniority is addressed, chances are things will still go wrong. For example, an assistant job supporting a senior role often includes “senior” or similar words in its description. Because of that, most search engines would think that the assistant job is senior and will show it to job seekers searching for real senior roles.

    All these parameters together are too much for search engines to process. Even for Google, whose algorithm can detect that “jaguar” means the car, not the animal when you search for it. To up its game decrypting job search, Google decided to collect, analyze, and classify all jobs there are on the planet.

    Job titles are grouped into clusters.

    google for jobs recruitee
    Photo: Google Cloud. Title data model.


    Job descriptions are broken down into attributes and skills.

    google for jobs recruitee
    Photo: Google Cloud. Simplified skills data model.


    From this giant database, Google can now define which jobs are the most relevant to a job seeker’s search term. Even obscure jobs like computer repair – opening up a computer and going into the wires – was also surfaced by Google for Jobs.

    Despite this smart algorithm, it’s best to be careful with choices like “ninja” the next time you pen a job description. Tools like Textio have shown a strong connection between the wording of your jobs and the types of applicants you get. Words that you think are fresh and exciting might turn out to be stereotyping and alienating certain groups of candidates.

    Just remember that Google can surface your job as a relevant result. But if potential candidates don’t see themselves in it, it’s irrelevant.

    2—It all comes down to the commutes

    How many times have you been in this situation: you are happy, the new hire is happy, until both crash into the reality of commuting?

    Many job seekers underestimate the damage of long-distance travel to work. Besides the time wasted on the road and traffic jams, research has found stress and health risks associated with commutes longer than 90 minutes. What candidates deem “no problem” in order to get the job will snowball into the very reason that makes them quit it.

    To prevent candidates from stretching themselves too much from the get-go, Google has added a location filter to their search results. Job seekers can choose “30 minutes” travel by “driving” and Google will show jobs that satisfy both conditions. This handy algorithm borrowed from Google Maps helps candidates find jobs within their reach and make the commitments they can keep.

    google for jobs recruitee
    Photo: Google Cloud. Commute Search.

    3—It changes the future of job advertising

    If Google for Jobs works and candidates only need to google to find jobs, will job boards become obsolete? The answer is “yes, but not now.” At the moment, Google is working with job boards instead of wiping them out. The cooperation is necessary to train Google’s machine learning to detect relevant job postings on a large scale. It also helps enrich Google’s job database with real-time search behaviors and search patterns. Further down the line, job boards as they are today will have little chance of survival. Companies need to rethink their job advertising strategy, starting with two fundamental points.

    First, you will no longer have to post the same job to multiple job boards anymore. Google will be able to spot all duplicate postings of one job. Only one posting with the most complete description will be shown to candidates. You don’t need to aimlessly post jobs to job boards, hoping that they might reach the potential candidates. Now you just need to publish your job descriptions online, knowing that they will reach the potential candidates.

    Second, it will be of utmost importance to put the best job descriptions online. It has been a common practice to post your jobs to industry-related job boards and relevant candidates will come automatically. Your job descriptions do not have to be great. They just need to be displayed at the right place. You can outdo competitors having the same job openings by pouring more money into job ads. That will change with Google for Jobs.

    As Google will show all jobs that meet candidates’ search criteria for free, the deciding factor is not “where your jobs are” but “what your jobs are.” The only way to stand out is having outstanding job descriptions.

    Think about the candidate personas you want to attract. What motivates them professionally? What can you offer? Lay all the details out in a clear structure so that Google can index them properly and bring them to the right candidates.

    google for jobs recruitee
    Photo: Google Cloud. Powered by Machine Learning.


    It will only be easier and easier for your jobs to be found by Google for Jobs. It is actually happening right now. If you are using Recruitee, all you need to do is to publish your jobs to your careers site. The more detailed your jobs are, the easier it is for Google for Jobs to pick them up. You can do that by simply filling out all the fields when creating a job in Recruitee.

    google for jobs recruitee
    Photo: Recruitee. Basic fields for creating a new job.
    google for jobs recruitee
    Photo: Recruitee. Optional fields for indexing a new job.


    As soon as your job is live on your careers site, Google for Jobs will index it automatically. To speed up the process, you can post your jobs to job boards like Indeed and Glassdoor right from Recruitee. The process takes only one click and it helps point out to Google that you are having new jobs for it. Here is an example of a job live on a careers site provided by Recruitee.

    google for jobs recruitee


    And here is how the job is found by Google for Jobs.

    google for jobs recruitee


    If a candidate is interested, they can click a search result, go straight to the job posting on a job board or a careers site, and start the applying process. As simple as that.

    4—It gives you fewer candidates with higher quality

    With the duplicate and mismatched results out of the picture, what job seekers get from their search is fewer options, yet highly relevant. The urge to “apply first, think later” to cope with the overwhelming amount of search results disappears.

    Candidates know what they find is vetted by Google and is a good fit for their search criteria. As a result, companies will see a decrease in quantity going hand in hand with an increase in quality of the job applications they get. The time saved from eliminating ‘spam’ candidates can now be invested in improving the candidate experience for those who are truly going for it.

    Besides, there is no excuse for not treating your candidates properly with all the HR technology we have. A simple email to confirm every candidate’s application can make a difference, as Stephanie de Booij from Tiqets has found out, and it takes only one minute to set up with Recruitee. Starting from small interactions like that, you can build up a great candidate journey for those involved.

    From what we have seen, candidates who have a good experience with a company are likelier to recommend their peers and friends to apply for that company, no matter if they are hired or not.

    Ready, steady, go; in that order

    With Google for Jobs, your candidate input will become more precise and targeted. It’s more important than ever to have the right structure to process these ‘hot’ candidates. This strong focus on efficiency has always been Recruitee’s goal. It has only become stronger:

    We have expanded Recruitee to optimize the hiring process as much as possible – not only tracking applicants, but also employer branding on careers sites and job posting. Above all, we understand that each company has its own needs and its own set of tools. Hiring itself does not happen in silos. So we have Recruitee’s API open and maximize its integrations with most common tools out there: Microsoft, G Suite, Slack, and more.


    This post was written Hagi Trinh, recruitment writer at Recruitee.com. The team is working on the greatest hiring platform of all time…check it out at Recruitee.com and follow them @recruiteeHR

  • Why recruiting agencies are more useful than you think

    Disclaimer: Before we go any further, let’s make clear that we don’t consider ourselves to be agency recruiters here at LevelUp…at least not in the traditional sense. Think of us more like recruitment process outsourcing or even as consultants. We could be an agency, but we just dont feel like it.

    Certainly aspects of what we do fit into the need for agency recruiters outlined in this article. But it’s the ethics, process and approach that we adopt, that differentiates us. We are startup focused, disruptive and turning startups into hiring machines one step at a time

    The agency recruiter. The mere thought to most people induces shudders and visions of a smiling, LinkedIn loving individual.

    And it’s true. Most traditional agency recruiters are sales driven people who value their hiring fee & commission more than someone’s career trajectory. In the traditional recruiting model, maximising revenue is a primary objective around which all other considerations must orbit.

    So can recruiting agencies be useful?

    Of course they can. It’s important to remember that recruiting agencies exist for a distinct reason: to cover the gaps that an in-house recruiter could not fill.

    Recruiting agencies can save you plenty of time by sourcing and shortlisting candidates for open jobs. Likewise, many agents will handle the tricky early phases of a recruiting pipelines such as CV & phone screening.

    This isn’t to say that a recruiting agency could replace internal recruiting efforts, but rather to highlight that they can more efficiently cover early stages of the recruiting pipeline due to economies of scale, workflow, expertise and network.

    To summarise, a few of the key areas in which an agency would be particularly useful:

    Specialised & executive roles:

    An internal recruiter has vision over the company’s talent needs, but may not necessarily have the specialised knowledge for certain roles. This necessary process of learning could cost the company more in terms of time and money than simply hiring a recruiting agency. The agency guarantees knowledge of specific skills across the board, specialist sourcing methodologies and niche job boards.

    Short term needs:

    Sometimes the talent need is so urgent that a recruiting agency becomes the most time & cost viable solution. Agencies have an in-built network of talent and can fill vacancies fast, should this be required.

    Fill a pipeline:

    An internal hiring manager may have their finger on the pulse of a company’s hiring needs, but they still rely on a full pipeline of talent to make their decisions. An agency can be a great partner to help in this process, helping internal recruiters to make more informed decisions.

    Agents are partners, not foes

    And here comes the important part: addressing your talent needs isn’t a case of in-house versus agency. In many cases, both an agency and an internal recruiter can provide complementary skillsets.

    It is important to recognise which parts of your talent needs are best satisfied by each party, in terms of time and cost. It is important to map out your future hiring needs and figure out what works best. And remember, many agencies understand startup culture as well as in-house!

    Just to recap, here are a few things to consider when choosing an agency or in-house for a particular need:

    • Network: Who can provide easy access to the network needed for a role? Is this network general or specific?
    • Expertise: What specific knowledge is required? Is prior experience in a sector beneficial to hiring?
    • Culture: Is this a short term hire or a longer term prospect? Is knowledge of the team culture important?
    • Money: Does the hiring need justify a long term sunk cost? Or is a short term one-off fee more appropriate?
    • Goals: Is the company desire to setup future hiring processes? Does internal HR make sense? What is the growth plan for the team?

    Find balance

    All things considered, analytics are key. It is important to measure your ‘good’ hires and work out why those were successful.

    From that data you can find a balance between filling your talent needs with agency recruiters and in-house recruiters. Finding the optimal hiring partner for your company may take time, but it’s worth investing the time in getting it right in order to build a team for growth.

    And that’s why we feel different in what we’re doing at LevelUp Ventures. A lot of the value we add to startups crosses the line between in house and agency recruiters. We just don’t feel like either.

    Our mission is to address these talent needs with startup friendly, innovative and creative solutions. We believe startups are the best places to work, and we’re driven by the prospect of making our clients happy. No cold emails, no sales commission and certainly no suits here!

  • A Recruiter’s Journey to the ‘Startup’ in Amsterdam

    #LessonLearned #GiveFeedbackToLife

    I want to give you some feedback Life, you badass with a sweetheart! Be ready because this is TL;DR 🙂

    My almost ‘full-star’ LinkedIn profile was written well,

    • I had a professional photo with an outstanding headline
    • I wrote a nice personalized summary in the first person
    • I thought about job titles, clear job descriptions & my diverse skillset to help the viewer imagine where I might fit in
    • Added some links and documents to support my experiences
    • Got recommendations from my candidates and colleagues
    • I added my educational background, made sure I had no time gaps and/or red flags

    Clearly, I filled out as much of the profile as possible, with the right mixture of keywords to be found. And there it was …. around June 2015, I was approached on LinkedIn with a ‘Tech Recruitment’ job by several companies from the UK and Dublin.

    Me, a 162cm ‘tall’ girl playing basketball, who had never lived further than from my home, Bratislava, was contacted to work abroad! There, in the big wild west! Yes Life, you really surprised me when you challenged me, you made me curious & excited, you gave me confidence and because you taught me to be a competitive person: ‘Challenge accepted!’

    Well, I didn’t accept the ‘London’ opportunity. London is too big a city for a small girl like me as a first ‘abroad’ experience. But instead, I decided to go to Amsterdam. Not that big, but still a capital city, metropolitan, modern, beautiful and international — simply an ideal place for an expat. I opened LinkedIn and started searching for jobs. I was reading and reading and reading a lot of job listing, when suddenly….

    Are you an agency recruiter? (“yes I am”), fed up with cold calling at a recruiting firm or bored of working for large corporates? (“yes I am”)? Do you love to find hidden talent in the online realms? (“yes I do”)? Do you love both people and puzzles? (“yes, I really love both”) Join us, and help deliver hyper growth to Amsterdam’s tech & online startups (“yes I want and I will”)!’ and here we go, I decided to apply! But I knew that I had one really big disadvantage, I was still living in Slovakia, which meant:

    • People might expect that I needed a Visa because they often think Slovakia is part of Russia, or similar to it.
    • People have different culture stereotypes, maybe even prejudices about Eastern Europe
    • People are afraid that I might not be really serious about relocating and might drop out from the process

    I decided to break these disadvantages and show that they should hire me, so I was assuming: the typical cover letter is not enough! Here’s why:

    • ‘Sloppy’ recruiters will not read it
    • Recruiters will not really get my enthusiasm and my motivation
    • Recruiters will not care at all …

    I really wanted to show this company ‘LevelUp Ventures’ that I am different as they are! I came up with an idea how to show them my personality and motivation. That same day, I opened my old HP notebook from like 7 years ago with a really old (not even HD) camera and started recording. I finished it, pasted it to my CV and sent it to them.


    Well… as you could see, it’s not HD quality and not even the sound is alright. I mean what do you expect from my old PC? And yes, I used a curtain for my background…. But it’s cool! I am proud (and a bit embarrassed too), but I put all my effort in there and guess what …

    Aik Deveneijns, the CEO of LevelUp Ventures, loved the amateur video, loved the curtain and he loved my effort and you know what else? He hired me on ‘XMAS EVE’!

    Well… let me tell you Life, whom I’ve become from that moment when I started to work for LevelUp Ventures!

    Eva, a Slovak girl with a passion for tech recruiting awesome talent for the top 10% of funded startups here in Amsterdam.

    I’ve met great people, who are amazing, energetic, creative, gorgeous & smart! I’ve met great candidates, many of them I can even call friends now. All of those people and companies taught me a lot! I’ve never learned that fast and that much before.

    At LevelUp Ventures I’ve been a 21st century recruiter, and that means no cold calling or spamming (it’s useless!), I’ve been myself, quite the nerd, with a genuine passion for tech & boolean and a new era of recruiting: networking, social selling & branding, internet & digital marketing and growth hacking. At LevelUp Ventures I could do it all and more! I felt comfortable, acknowledged, autonomous and always charged by our mission to ‘enable growth’.

    Thank you LevelUp Ventures you’ve taught me a lot, and special thanks to my lovely colleagues:

    @ aikdeveneijns “glorious leader” how to inspire others with their vision and use inventive ways of reaching goals

    @ tomvrenken “ginger hustler” how to be honest, work persistently and easily lift people’s spirits

    @ omario “mr. coolio” how to rise above it and not get stressed, stay calm and supportive.

    @ ryan “grey” gruss how to use marketing, be creative and use efficiently the network.

    @ jeremy ”the machine” how to finish a project and achieve the goal over the people emotions

    @andrei “newbie” how to be enthusiastic over & over and don’t give up

    @ becky “Cali girl” how to constantly work to improve the company’s employer brand and company culture.

    @ elise “sunshine” how to be a responsive, concerned, always helpful and caring person

    @ alina “bulina” how to have a great desire to learn and want to continuously improve, how to help to cooperate or to support

    Now it’s time to move forward! Life, you again surprised me and challenged me and so ‘again a new challenge accepted!’ Here I start my new adventure as the first in-house recruiter @Impraise and let’s see what this challenge will bring me, let’s build an amazing team!

    I will be back soon!

    PS: Check LevelUp Ventures out here, they’re pretty cool and hiring!

  • How founders react to scaling their companies (& how they should)

    Growth is hard. Like a fear of heights or a fear of small spaces, scaling up a company can be a daunting thought for many startup founders. In fact, a recent study by Highland Europe confirmed that half of the founders interviewed believed that it was their ability to manage growth or adapt strategy that would lead to failure for their startup when it began to scale up.

    So, what’s up?

    When you typically read about stories of startup failure, it comes down to fundraising and the ability to manage capital. But this study seems to indicate the opposite – it shows that founders themselves blame failure on their ability to manage.

    As the survey below shows, two of the biggest perceived hurdles to growth are finding senior talent and customer acquisition as a company grows. But these threats stem from a broader reaction from startup leaders: the worry over transforming from founder to CEO.

    Becoming the CEO of a rapidly growing company seems daunting on paper – the vast task of satisfying an increasing number of stakeholders, balancing risks and rewards, and maintaining a creative vision for the company. Customer acquisition, attracting senior talent and other worries cited in the study are by products of this fear.

    Gordon Willoughby, CEO of file transfer service WeTransfer, has described his company as being “squarely in the ‘scale-up’ phase”, but already experiencing many of the organisational infrastructure and capability hurdles mentioned.

    Is it all bad news for founders?

    Absolutely not. Being startup founders by definition means that these kind of people do not give up on making a success of their vision.

    The report also confirmed that startup founders are indeed optimistic, with two thirds believing that their company had unicorn potential. The mere idea of scaling up is a fantasy for most founders, but it seems they are equally as aware of the pitfalls of growth as its rewards.

    The ability to hire senior talent, manage cash flow and adapt strategically are part of this transition from founder to CEO as a company scales. Founders need to see themselves not as the biggest risk to scaling up their company, but the biggest asset for successful growth.

    How founders can adapt to scaling up

    Scaling up a startup is a big test for any founder, and so it’s easy to understand why so many feel belittled by such a task. But…it doesn’t have to be!

    Yes, you guessed it…we have put together a few tips. Here at LevelUp, we deal with scale ups all the time and we’ve seen how to adapt from the frontline. Enjoy!

    1) Keep delegating

    At some point, you have to realise that you can’t do everything yourself and that you may actually be putting your business at risk by spreading yourself too thin. We get it…founders feel very attached to their companies and want to be in charge of every aspect from the office decor to the nitty gritty financials.

    But as a wiseman once said, surround yourself more qualified than yourself. A successful founder should recognise the challenges to growth and the people who are best suited to tackle them head on.

    2) Track your time

    With so many things to do from walk the dog to perfect the pitch, being a startup founder can seem like an endless task. And with all that on your plate, who cared about what time you spend on each?

    Wrong. You don’t have to meticulously log timesheets every 10 minutes, but try to keep a record of what you’re working on and how long it takes you to complete it. This is a key part in working out the pain points of your business and where you are wasting yourvaluable time.

    3) Try not to multitask too much

    Ahh multitasking…the coveted holy grail of startup life – the inescapable urge to prove to the world you are the bastion of dedication to your project.

    Again…wrong. Researchers believe that just 2% of people have the right brainpower to be competent “supertankers”, while the rest of us see our productivity drop when we try to do multiple things at once. So do yourself and your company a favour as you scale by managing projects one-by-one. Use any tools necessary to make life easier but please dont do everything at once.

    4) Don’t sweat the small stuff

    This tip sounds like the name of some 90s pop chart hit, but it’s actually very crucial to scaling up with success. Few people choose to found a company to sample the joys of financial admin, secretarial paperwork, email management and data filing.

    So don’t end up spending the majority of your time doing these very tasks rather than focusing on leading your company. Delegate these low-level tasks to someone else on the team or even just automate the s@#t out of them. Less time spent on form filling is more time spent on managing your company’s growth.

    Starting a company is hard enough, but scaling it up presents a whole new suite of challenges. The problems outlined in the survey show that the transition from scrappy founder to growth-managing CEO is a big one for many. Everything from customer acquisitor to cash flow can be effectively grown, if a founder keeps control over themselves.

    The key to founders’ adaptability is inherently personal. Keep a firm grip over the company’s vision, manage and adapt your workflow to growth, and know when to delegate and who to hire. If anyone can bounce back, up and sideways, it’s a startup founder so get out there and scale up your company 🙂