All About Startup Hiring




Hiring is a step-by-step recruitment process, but when it comes to Startup hiring the road is an uphill drive. Little time, money, and little room to go wrong, startup hiring is a tedious task. You need to execute it with perfection.

Top 5 Startup Hiring Challenges

Startup Challenges
Startup Challenges
  1. Time

Challenge: Startup needs to do so much in so less time and so is the hiring process in a startup.

Solution: Stay active and build a network with people who like your social media posts. Reach out to them and understand their level of interest. When you would need to hire, they will be able to assist quickly, because you kept them engaged with yourself. Recommendations work faster than anything else, saving a lot of time and effort.

  1. Money

Challenge: Startups being a startup have to manage with limited funds. Hiring an employee is a big-ticket item for a startup.

Solution: Ensure matching the candidate goals with the company goals to precision. If you align the goals correctly, you end up hiring an asset for the company. If not, the employee and the company both walk in different directions.

  1. Brand Awareness

Challenge: Nobody knows who you are.

Solution: Create a strong social media awareness. Create a strong network and constantly share the core values of the organization. When you hire, make the prospect browse the company’s social media. This will help in creating your brand awareness. Keep your social media up-to-date always. Ensure every team member in the organization is sharing the company’s post in its network to increase the visibility of your brand.

  1. Right Fit

Challenge: Talented folks ask for too much salary.

Solution: All skills fit-in-one do not exist. Be reasonable with your expectations and you will be able to find the right fit faster. A reasonable requirement will also make the prospect comfortable in picking the job.

  1. Wrong Hire

Challenge: While you try to take every precaution in not hiring a wrong person, but it is inevitable.

Solution: The sooner you realize this the sooner you should let the employee go. A wrong hire is constant damage to your time and money.

Hiring for a startup is always complex especially when a startup is young. But if you follow a strategy and focus on what you want, you will be able to simplify this complex process of hiring.

10 Strategies to hire for Startup

Startup Hiring Strategies

  1. Make it inclusive

The fun in a startup is that everyone does everything, so why not hiring. Include everyone in the organization during the hiring process. You have no idea who is sitting in whose network that might be the right fit for your startup.

And when everyone is inclusive, each member of the team will try its best to hire the best.

  1. Collaborate using Collaborative tools

Since everyone is trying to hire, it’s time to dedicate a certain task to certain people. Tools like Trello and Slack are really handy in assigning task and responsibilities. This helps in tracking progress and move faster.

  1. Task Allocation

You involved everyone in the hiring process, great. It is also important to identify the capabilities of your team. Assign a role based on their capabilities. A technical person must screen technical abilities and not communication skills.

  1. Recommendations and Social Media Hiring

If you are looking to hire from job boards, most likely you are on a wrong path. Reach out to everyone, even those whom you think could be least able to help you in recommending somebody. After all, there is no down-side of it.

Push notifications on your social media about what you are looking for. Connect with those who show interest. Do not hesitate to reach out to those who have been in the same field and asking for recommendations.

  1. Sell your benefits

Joining a startup could be a risk for somebody. After all, 90% startup fails within the first year. Clearly articulate why somebody should join your startup. Define the benefits for the candidate and it will help you attract the right people. You should also express your vision and mission to potential candidates.

  1. Strong online presence

Strong online presence number of followers is a parameter to your brand value. Larger the number of followers better the brand value. Stay constant with your online engagements. Write blogs and posts to attract talent.

  1. Process vs. Experience

A startup is all about the experience. When you interview somebody, make it an experience instead of making it a process. If you feel you have found the right fit, make them meet the entire team. This will bring a feeling of inclusion and leads to a better experience.

  1. Answer more and ask more

Interviewing is asking questions. The question leads to answers. And answers help you understand the other person better. You ask questions because you interested in the person you are talking to.

Similarly, the candidate would ask questions about the organization. Allow them to ask questions and patiently answer them. Be elaborate in your answers. This will bring more confidence in the candidate in you and the role.

  1. Skill vs. Attitude

Skills to important to perform the task, but remember that skills can always be developed. But it is next to impossible to build the attitude of a person. When you hire, focus on the attitude of the person. If the person has the right attitude but lacks somewhere in skills, he is always a better bet than otherwise.

  1. Be diversity-focused

Diversify yourself. Break the boundaries of the 4 walls of your office. Stop hiring the person who can come to the office. Instead, hire somebody who could get the job done. And they can be physically anywhere in the world.

Focus on the right brain rather than focus on race, gender, culture. A diversity of thoughts, energy, and psychology helps in an organization’s growth. Some people are innovators, some are good in making strategies, some are good for setting up procedures and some are good at implementing those procedures. We all are a combination of Builder, Explorer, Negotiator, and Director.

Take help of psychometric assessment to find the best fit. Use technology to solve the problem of face to face interactions. I know a few people who left their 9-5 job because of their personal reasons. They have capabilities and if given chance could become a rock star for you.

Recruiters in startups need to find new methods of attracting a talent pool for their organization. They need to constantly learn new strategies. Reading is a good source of getting new ideas. Read recommended recruiting books to adapt to changing recruiting needs.

Top 5 questions to answer before you hire for Startup

Questions for startup hiring
Questions for startup hiring
  1. Do you really need to hire?

There is always a gap between wish and reality. You may wish to hire somebody, but startups should not hire unless it is important. Sometimes startup starts hiring earlier than required and eventually fail to sustain them.

  1. Permanent hire vs. Freelancer?

A full-time hire comes with a lot of cost and other overheads. Also, unless you have enough work for a new hire, the resource will lose its interest in the work. This underutilized resource is also a waste of your money. Using a freelancer could is always a better bet. I use this formula to make my decision:

Salary for Full Time Hire + 20% >= Freelance cost

As long as this statement stays true, I prefer working with freelancers.

  1. What is most critical?

Make a list of all the roles you need to hire for. Find out the most critical role from the list and focus on that hiring. Do not hire unless the hiring is critical and impacts the growth within the coming 6 months. Define key responsibility areas for each role and evaluate. This sometimes helps in merging two roles into one and reduce the required headcount.

  1. Experienced vs. Fresher?

Everyone loves to work with an experienced person, but you must think twice before making a decision. An experienced person is great to have but comes with its own baggage.

It takes time for an experienced resource to adjust to a new environment. But, it might be easier for them to learn about your environment and become productive faster. Hiring experienced professionals from other start-ups can benefit as they are aware of challenges in start-ups. Hiring form start-ups with similar values and vision will be a win-win situation.

On the other side fresher will come at less cost and are generally highly trainable. If given proper training they can do wonders, but it takes time. The brighter side is that it is easier to inculcate your company values in freshers.

  1. Hiring Specialists vs. a mix of all?

Check your goal and decide if you need a specialist of a generalist. Hiring specialist will lead to top-notch solutions to your customers. But you may fall apart in other parts of your business.

If your solution does not need specialist care hiring a generalist might give you an advantage.  You will be able to do many things together with a limited number of resources.

Check our exclusive In Conversation with Santosh Alex, Sr. Engineering Recruiter with Twitter and understand why recruiting career is an excellent career choice.

Top 3 benefits Startups can offer to attract talent

Startup Benefits
Startup Benefits
  1. Work from home

A lot of talent gets wasted when they are not able to commute to the office and continue their 9-5 routine. Women’s are more likely to sacrifice their job in the quest of giving enough time to their child and family.

A work from home option can help you use the talent at a reasonable cost and with longevity. The ability to work at a time and location of their choice can attract a lot of great talent towards you.

  1. Upfront Equity

C-level employees need more than a salary to stay attached to an organization. Upfront equity with a vesting period is a great option for such employees.

The equity might not hold the value in the present. But because they believe in the vision of the company, they understand the value of equities. The equity keeps its moral high and helps them focus on the growth of the organization.

  1. Stock Options

This option is similar but not the same. You offer these options to important people in your organization. The stocks are not given right away. The employee gets the option to buy certain stocks after a certain period of time at current prices.

The time after which the employee can buy the company share is the vesting period. The employee keeps the virtual shares till the time the vesting period is over.

Top 10 places to look for Ideal candidates for Startups

  1. LinkedIn

Networking sites like LinkedIn are places where people meet others to fulfill professional goals. Investors look for potential companies to invest. Salespeople hunt for potential customers. A significant number of people hunt for better opportunities. And others are always in hunt of their dream role. Connect with them.

  1. Meetup

A Meetup is a place where like-minded people from similar niche meet, discuss, and contribute. Use X-Ray search and filter people based on location and skills. Join other’s meetup to network with people. Create and sponsor a meetup and invite others to take part.

  1. Networking Events

Like meetups, there are many networking events organized by companies. Some are for promotions and some are for knowledge sharing. Networking events are great to market your startup and find potential hires.

  1. Social Media

Facebook groups are a great way to connect with industry-specific people. Twitter and Instagram help you directly reach out to somebody if you know their handles. Connecting with target prospect has become extremely easy using Social Media.

  1. Open Source Social Media

Github, Stack Overflow, Quora, and Source Forge etc. are great places to find technical folks. Check their work, connect with them and hiring becomes easy and focused.

  1. College Placement Cell

Recently fresh graduates have done wonders. They seem to be more passionate about what they do. Come with a lot of energy and a mind that craves to learn. They adapt quickly to a new environment and are hard working.

  1. Reach out to local specialized institutes

Like colleges, reach out to local institutes. You will find skilled fresh graduates hungry to take up an assignment. These folks will need minimum guidance and could be a great bet.

  1. Industry-specific forums and blogs

Join the forums and follow the blogs that relate to your niche. Question, answers, promotions and many other things keep the forum alive. Follow the people who show the required knowledge in comments. They could be your potential employees.

  1. Freelance Marketplaces

Freelancer, Fiverr, Upwork etc. are places where you can find specialists. Some people do it because they are passionate about what they do and want more challenges and some do it for money. Either way, you can connect with right folks.

  1. AngelList

Angellist is a free network that connects employers with talent. This talent is there to find a potential startup to work with. Create jobs so that people can apply. The downside is that anyone, qualified or not, can apply to your job.

Last but not least is the Job Sites. This being the last in the list, you still cannot mitigate the importance of it. Given the size of the database they have, you have chances to find the right fit. But, in the process of finding the right fit, you end up getting too many unwanted profiles. This eats a lot of your time and effort.

Recruiting for startups has always been challenging. The key to success is the eagle eyes to find somebody passionate about the idea that you live. Networking and Marketing plays an important role that brings you closer to your audience.

PS: I like to thank Jyoti Hooda for her contributions in making this article complete. She made some valuable points in completing this article.

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About the author, Amit Gupta

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