Screw Linkedin: Hire through Instagram, Product Hunt, Couchsurfing, Strava and Airbnb

Most articles about hiring through the upcoming social media are really lame and only say: ‘post relevant content on Snapchat’ & ‘be authentic on Instagram’. This is all fun and games when you are Facebook, Stripe or Uber but most of us founded / work for companies which only followers are your mum and a couple of randoms — if you are lucky.

While I agree that it’s good for (startup) companies to have some presence on these channels, the real benefit from it will only be in a much later stage when you already have someone managing social media for you. The real work has to be done by yourself, right now, and this all starts with your attitude.

disclaimer: you need to know basic x-ray searching with google and use your brain occasionally if you want to do this yourself.


When I talk attitude, I mean attitude towards the internet and how to use it to find your next colleague. Most of us have limited views on where you can find people. People massively flock to LinkedIn and only use this as their one stop shop for finding/hiring people. More advanced people (founders, tech-leads & good tech recruiters) put Github, Stackoverflow, Hackernews & Reddit to their use to find talent.

Because I was bored of being in the same places as everyone else, I started thinking. In essence the success of Linkedin is that they managed to get shitloads of people to sign up to their database and leave important data on their profiles.

However, the tide is changing. Quite frankly I don’t really care about previous work experience, or a nice chronological list of when & where you studied. The ‘resume’ style of presenting yourself is becoming obsolete. I’d much rather know what code you’ve pushed, what music you like and what you care about outside of work. A chronological list is just a nice to have, because I will find out those things when you get back to me because I found you on say, Couchsurfing.

With that in mind, think of the endless opportunities that snapchat, instagram and couchsurfing give us. A look into peoples interest and the best of all: they all have user databases where people leave info. Yeah, about the job they do or what they study.

Couchsurfing & Strava

Let me put this ‘attitude’ to use.

A simple google search like: "software engineer" London gives me 50 software engineers in London, who open up their houses to complete strangers. This says a lot about a person, and thats just what I am after.

The good thing is, I am a fellow couchsurfer so it gives me a great plus when I reach out to them. I have even sent Couchsurf requests when I could not find peoples private email and always with success.

This is also why I always cross reference check people with strava (runners / bikers community). My javascript bookmarklets I showed in a previous post are helpful here:


Since I am not big on the newer social media like Instagram, I am much more limited than the younger people out there looking for their talent. It feels lame to follow someone on instagram because I want to hire them.

However, if you have the following and use them new social media daily, it’s a whole different story.

The core of cracking these user-databases is knowing how they structure their urls to get to their users (eg. “/users”). Also need to know how to craft your search-string so that you will only land on user profiles. For Instagram, profiles always have “followers”, “posts” and “following” mentioned, so it’s smart to add these to your search string. Also, Instagram does not have a separate link like Couchsurfing for their users.

So a search like "computer science" posts followers followinggets you all the computer science people on Instagram, which are around 1800 profiles currently.

The fun thing is that you can do crazy stuff with Instagram, if for whatever reason you care that your hires like Man Utd, simply add manutd to your string and bang: 3 people left. (Says enough about ManU as well, :troll: ) "computer science" post followers following manutd

I think you get my point, be creative (how to add those emoticons in your search?) on your strings. Add stuff that is relevant to you and your company and single out people. When you find someone, look their name up on your favorite tool Linkedin.

Product Hunt

Product hunt became big! And it’s full of people who care about products. Or make products. People who make stuff are nice. People who make stuff are good hires across the board.

Same story here. But because I am obviously not going to do all the hard work for you guys. I write this stuff up hoping you go creative yourself. Yes, you can add something like this: "1..10 made" to your string to single out makers only. Stuff like that, go do it.


If you want engineers with a sense of moneymaking in them, Airbnb is a good one. Also, they give you a look into their house (which is frequently the equivalent of a look inside their brain).

If your startup has some money to spend go book nights with all the SF based Computer Science people: "computer science" "san francisco" gives you 1290 nights * $200 avg price = $258.000 to spend a night with all of them. Success guaranteed of course.

Probably there are many other sites like these that have a database you can search through. Things that are relevant for your business. Things that make it easier to connect with people through shared interests.

Let the stupid recruiters spam people through Linkedin. You, CEO of a business, founder of a startup, even engineers! Go out and do these things instead. Stand out from the rest, that’s how you get attention from the best.

Here at Improbable we have been applying these and much bolder tactics to hire our world class team. As a virtually unknown startup we managed to poach the best people from Google, Amazon, Goldman Sachs & Airbnb. Partly because of our ‘attitude’ we managed to build a team that got voted #38th smartest company by MIT & we are one of the only two EU companies that got an a16z investment — where obviously talent was a big influencer as well.

Currently I am trying to crack Snapchat for hiring. It’s been an awkward few weeks of trying as I never used it before. Stay tuned for that.

If you liked what you just read, share it with your friends.

Also, follow me on Snapch… errr 

willem Wijnans

About willem Wijnans

There is one thing Willem likes best: sharing his knowledge about sourcing & recruiting for high growth startups. As a mentor with Rockstart in Amsterdam he has helped many of the startups make their first hires and enabling them to do the hiring job themselves. Teaching them how to source / engage, be more innovative and getting top technology talent in. He also trains developer-teams to become sourcers themselves, as he believes hiring for startups is a team wide effort. Changing mindsets comes first, open-sourcing everything he learned second. As a result Willem runs the blog where he openly shares his knowledge about hiring. He currently works at — one of Londons’ most promising startups backed by a16z — where he builds teams from scratch and implements his creative hiring strategies. You can find all his social profiles nicely organised here