8 min read

How to Build A Hiring Marketplace

How to Build A Hiring Marketplace

Hello friends 👋,

This is the weekly edition of our newsletter.  The Pallet Post features conversations with awesomely insightful professionals, jobs from companies they recommend, and some of our own takeaways from building a startup.


Before getting into this week's post, I'd like to tell you a little story about how Pallet came to be.

Our first wedge into the market was a consumer platform called Cardea. We dubbed ourselves the "Spotify for Jobs" because we curated "playlists" of open roles that centered around any possible theme: deep tech, last-minute internships, product design roles at design studios, etc.

Users could follow these "playlists" to receive a steady flow of jobs in their personalized "stream"— a newsfeed-style product with built-in email notifications. We had two main pages, the "stream" and the "discover page." They looked like this:

Our initial goal was to attract enough attention to start doing some outbound— finding people who were big in the tech-twitter sphere so they could "guest curate" a list. Our aim was to build a critical mass of users utilizing the product's novelty and the viral reach of our guest curators. Once that happened, we'd get businesses involved.

We'd tell a business "hey, we have a playlist featuring roles at early-stage startups with 1,000,000+ followers, this would be a good place to post your role (for a price!)" This was all part of the plan to create an incredible top-of-funnel experience for job-seekers, we believed it would translate into more intentional and qualified applications.

But somewhere along our initial journey, we got connected with a guy named Lenny Rachitksy, a product manager turned creator who had been on our radar for months. Turns out, he had no interest in "guest-curating" a list, he wanted to start his own job board. He had businesses already paying him to feature roles in his newsletter, and he wanted a solution that would allow him to host all the jobs in one place and easily monetize.

We got off the call and looked at one another (there were only five of us at the time).

"Interesting."

Lenny was offering to put the horse in front of the cart. Instead of trying to create a two-sided marketplace from scratch— we start by building with those who either have some sort of a marketplace already or have clear potential to create one.

Our core thesis about candidate matching didn't necessarily have to change either. We still believe more curated searches weed out uninterested parties. But Lenny was providing an additional unlock– his own audience. Not only would they gravitate towards the product manager jobs he selects, but businesses would definitely pay (and had been already) to reach his audience directly.

One of our cofounders, Jake, already had professional communities on his radar. Every couple of days or so he'd say something along the lines "we're missing a real opportunity here" and frantically point to the research he had done on hiring channels that existed in slack communities, or jobs being shared on a newsletter.  

So we decided.  Let's build a job board for Lenny. After all, we were well positioned for it— it would essentially be like any other "playlist" we had, but instead of existing in a sea of others, it would be a stand-alone product.

Fast forward and here we are. We've partnered with over 30 creators and communities, all with unique channels and mediums of reaching their audience. Some had more immediate marketplace potential than others, some were trying to create one alongside us— all trying to learn from the previous successes.

In today's post, I'd like to highlight the process that we've learned is most effective, and how different partners have approached building their very own hiring marketplace. It's been quite an education.

In all cases, it starts long before the job board is actually live. We call this the "pre-launch" phase and it has a couple of steps.

The Primer

First, you've got to prime your audience or members on the idea of a job board.

Before providing something, give it a tease. Whether it's in tight knit Slack group, or to a large Twitter following, make sure the people really want it. In most cases, we find the reaction is overwhelmingly positive. In the end, the teaser serves more as a heads up that it's coming than an actual survey.

The best way to do this is in many parts and across different mediums.

Continuously shoot subtle (or not so subtle) reminders that something new and exciting is on the horizon.

Start Analog

Some of our partners already have existing recruitment activity funneled through them before launch, but for those that don't, we suggest integrating jobs into their content or their community.

Start a hiring channel, reserve slots in your newsletter for open roles, use the first minute of your youtube video to shout out cool opportunities— whatever it is, start practicing how you can best showcase jobs without sacrificing any authenticity. If anything, it should actually enrich the experience. You're adding value to your audience, not noise.

Simultaneously, tap into your network a bit. See if anybody is willing to pay for your highlighted jobs. Get a sense of how hot your market might be. We've had many partners who claimed to have no business interest prior to working with us, only to find out the only thing missing was the actual outbound request.

Launch Day

Once you've started pushing a couple of jobs to your audience and you've reached an "opportunity-market fit"— i.e. you understand what kind of roles they're interested in, it's time to launch the job board. You've graduated from the "pre-launch" phase.

You're going to want to utilize every distribution channel you have to reach the entire scope of your audience or members. Set the larger vision for what you'd like to accomplish with your job board and explain what problem it's going to solve. Essentially, make it a big deal.

It doesn't matter whether it's a viral tweet, a message in slack, or a youtube announcement, you have to make people feel the gravity.

You get the point. Make a stink about it. Your goal should be to drive a high proportion of your total audience on the day of launch. You want everyone possible to be familiar with the board and how it fits into your offering. It doesn't matter if that stink is reaching 500 people or 50,000, as long as your community or audience is engaged.

Keeping the Momentum

Now the fun part starts– you've done the work of setting your board up and launching, all that remains is hyping businesses up with frequent updates on the board's success. At this point, your audience should be convinced, if not ingrained, to the board.

There are a couple of ways to attract paying customers, one tried and true method is the sharing of success stories.

Publicly re-sharing good results make businesses feel more comfortable that they're going to receive results themselves (duh). It's an obvious one, but it shouldn't be taken for granted. Word travels fast in the tech-sphere and we've seen these anecdotal pieces of evidence serve as really powerful flywheels of growth.

Another great method is blasting out statistics. Share the traction you are receiving.

Ultimately, we find that most creators and communities are well-suited to run a job board. Anyone that has fostered an engaged group of people is viable. Whether you go viral every week, or you're a small 1,300 person VC community, you can drive results for paying companies.

What we've found so fascinating, since that initial launch with Lenny, is how many different types of customers can succeed. While we do intensive research into each partner to personalize a solution, the playbook for success ultimately remains the same.

Whether you want to become "the place" for product jobs like Lenny, spread awareness to amazing companies like Sahil, or do everything you can to help aspiring (and seasoned) product designers in you community like Femke. There is one thing that ties them altogether.

They make businesses (and their audiences) really, really happy.