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Carolyn Betts: A Powerhouse in Tech Recruiting

Carolyn Betts | Credit: Betts Recruiting

Every Silicon Valley startup hungers for rapid growth. While R&D and product development are important in getting companies started, it’s frontline sales people who drive tangible, material startup growth. But finding — much less hiring — top sales people is almost as difficult as raising funding. That’s where a professional recruiting firm can really show its value. For sales people in particular, one of the go-to resources is Betts Recruiting, a longtime specialist in high-tech recruiting for business positions across the U.S.

Betts Recruiting San Francisco Office | Credit: Betts Recruiting

Betts is based in San Francisco, and it has six offices in major tech centers around the country. In charge of the 100- plus employee recruiting firm is Carolyn Betts, a top female figure in the often male-dominated recruiting world. Betts, who is a former enterprise sales executive herself, has a deep understanding of the challenges faced by startups and knows how to match the  talent to the right company. From junior sales associates to VPs of sales, Betts and her firm help venture-backed companies at any stage build and scale their sales teams to achieve breakout growth. Betts Recruiting typically averages 100 placements per month, and the firm has worked with more than a thousand tech companies, including Dropbox, Survey Monkey, ProsperWorks, and Polyvore. recently sat down with Betts in her glass-walled headquarters in downtown San Francisco. We got a chance to pick her brain about industry dynamics, watch her team in action, and understand more about what drives her firm’s success.

Betts Employees | Credit: Betts Recruiting

Betts energy and good humor is infectious. Her interactions with team members appeared to be warm and open, and she clearly enjoys engaging with people in her office. The overwhelming majority of the Betts Recruiting team is female, and the firm is committed to building a diverse and inclusive culture. The company has won multiple awards for best place to work, including from the San Francisco Business Times in 2016.

Betts Recruiting recently announced the launch of an expanded effort to help service men and women who are transitioning from military to civilian careers. The initiative includes interview preparation courses, resume-building workshops, and job search coaching, all to help lower unemployment among service men and women while providing tech companies with another source of highly skilled talent.

Asked to talk about the most important trends in recruiting and human resources, Betts pointed to the recent ban on asking about salary history. The bill, signed by California governor Jerry Brown, will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2018. It prohibits private and public employers from seeking a candidate’s pay history. Betts sees the legislative change as part of a broader societal push to fight wage discrimination, including the gender pay gap. Women historically earn less than men for the same type of jobs, and salary history questions can inadvertently cause these inequalities to perpetuate and multiply.

Like most recruiting professionals, Betts has been avidly following the unfolding stories about workplace harassment. She believes it is part of a movement that will overhaul toxic workplace culture and offer the justice to female employees that they have long deserved. Although some industry observers have warned about potential unintended consequences such as discouraging male-female workplace interaction, Betts thinks companies with positive workplace cultures and values will naturally find the right balance going forward.

Asked about her “secret sauce” at the end of our conversation, Betts was modest. She attributes her success to old-fashioned networking with highly qualified people and to effective use of industry technologies. She obviously loves what she does and seems to thrive in her interactions with her team. She went on to say that she finds balance in an early morning workout ritual and spending time outdoors at her family home in Tahoe.