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Startups, Share the Top Job Candidates You Turn Down

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

One of the biggest challenges and potential roadblocks to success for many startup companies is hiring. Everywhere you turn, it seems, those at the helm of various companies can be heard complaining about the amount of time it takes to find someone right for job X or for position Y.

Despite this mutual need shared by startups, companies have yet to find a solution. Instead, they settle for the current process of spending hour upon hour screening job candidates until finding the right designer, developer, marketer or executive.

Currently, startups undergo a lengthy process to hire new people. After deciding on the role to fill, they go through the traditional route of posting ads to different job boards, screening candidates, interviewing those who seem the most qualified and then hiring the person who is the best fit.

Once companies choose the right person, though, the remaining handful of top candidates are left in the dust -- even though these are individuals with the right qualifications who might just be better suited to work at another company. But why aren't startups sharing these top job candidates (the ones they turn down, that is)?

Related: How to Spend Zero on Recruiting and Still Hire the Best Candidates

If your company shared top candidates with other startups in your community, most of the complaints connected with hiring would disappear: There would be less time spent looking for candidates, companies would no longer have to waste limited funds on the high cost of recruiters (typically 20 percent to 30 percent of a first-year salary) and the quicker turnaround time would mean more resources to spend on building your product or service and the company.

In short, companies would gain an immediate boost to their bottom line.

If this information on top job candidates werer shared between companies, it would also serve to boost the startup community as a whole. Connecting rejected top candidates with other startups seeking to fill roles not only gives those companies the benefit of a reliable lead, but also grants the job seekers more opportunities to find a job.

If the issue is indeed finding the right fit, a job candidate would have an easier time landing at the right company if startups willingly shared such information. This approach has the potential to raise the entire startup community and the overall U.S. economy.

Sharing information about top job candidates is a viable system. There's a reason why many big companies have some kind of employee-referral program in place: They trust their employees to find candidates that best fit the position and the company.

Related: 9 Questions to Ask Candidates' References

According to a study published earlier this year, referrals account for 30 percent to 50 percent of all hires in the United States. This isn't surprising when you take into consideration studies that show that referred candidates are more likely to stay at a company and be more productive. Presumably, the same results would occur when startups refer their rejected top candidates to other companies.

But with all the benefits to this kind of system, sharing of resources doesn't seem to be happening in startup communities. Why is that? It doesn't seem that there are any regulations that prevent startups from sharing a list of top candidates with other companies. And there is no perceivable downside to sharing a rejected candidate.

My guess is that startups are afraid that by doing so, they might, in turn, help their competitors. But then, don't share with your direct competitors. While it makes sense for startups to not support the efforts of competing firms, there's no reason for, say, a food-delivery startup to withhold information on rejected developer candidates from an enterprise social-media analytics startup. And at the end of the day, they would be helping people find employment.

"Startups live and die by the quality of their employees," says GiveForward co-founder and president Ethan Austin. "At the same time, I think everyone deserves to find a job they love. If I can help pair up great people with great companies, I'm giving both the company and the employee a very meaningful gift."

GiveForward is one of a few companies that fully supports the idea of candidate referrals. Anytime the company finds itself with strong job candidates that it ultimately has rejected, Austin makes sure to introduce those individuals to other startups where they might be a better fit. It's his personal experience, though, that such interactions between startups are more likely to occur within small, trusted networks such as that of Techstars or between a venture capital firm's portfolio companies.

But that doesn't mean that creating this sharing arranging isn't an option for startups not already participating in these kinds of networks. "Companies should create more affinity groups with other companies in their area," Austin suggests. "Groups could create a simple email distribution list of startups, where one could quickly email everyone at once to share a great candidate."

And whether it's by creating a network of startups or simply writing an email to another company founder, it doesn't hurt to refer a rejected top candidate to another company. A startup community that works together, thrives together.

Related: 5 Essential Ingredients for Making a Smart Hire

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