Startup hiring 101: find the right people in 3 steps

startup hiring

Startup hiring is a difficult task. In fact, sourcing and retaining talent that integrates perfectly into your team is one of the most challenging parts of running an emerging startup. How do you find the people who can make your company flourish, not flounder?

Follow these three steps to streamline your startup hiring:

1. Know the challenges of startup recruitment

It’s important to remember that startup hiring is different from recruiting people for an established company. Startups are usually young, and have few staff members, so you often have to focus on finding people who can take on multiple different responsibilities.

Also, startups often don’t have HR departments, so the founders or other team members have to take care of the entire recruitment process. This can make it difficult to invest enough time into writing definitive job description, interviewing, screening, hiring, and onboarding. However, by optimizing your recruitment strategies, you can get the most out of the process. That’s where the following two steps come in.

2. Generate buzz around your startup

In an Instigator Blog post on startup hiring, Ben Yoskovitz, explains how startups can create a “hiring magnet” by networking and generating a local buzz. Try some of these strategies to get the right talent knocking at your door:

In-person networking: Yes, person-to-person networking is a still an effective way of attracting talent. Go to events with a well-rehearsed pitch about your company and what you’re hiring for. As word gets around, it’s just a matter of time until it reaches those star performers you’re looking for.

Getting to know the talent: You know your startup needs talented people, but do you really know who those talented people are? Search for the type of people you would want to hire and take the time to get to know them – the intel will be valuable, and the individuals will be more likely to look to your company when they’re making their next career move.

Sizing up the competition: What are your competitors doing to attract new hires? Take a look at what they’re offering and see if you can beat them at their own game. And if you can’t beat them, try a completely different approach to cut through the noise.

Using content marketing: Every business needs a blog and social media presence, and your startup can use them to define and disseminate its value as an employer. For more on this, download our free small business eGuide, Building your employer brand with social media.

3. Screen candidates using a startup hiring checklist

When your buzz starts to attract top talent to your startup, the next step is finding the ideal candidates. We asked Bryan Watson of Flow Ventures, a company that provides capital and guidance to startups, for a candidate checklist to use in the startup hiring process:

Team fit: First and foremost, a startup needs to consider if this person is a good fit for the team. “This could be the first outside person that a startup has ever hired. That could be potentially destabilizing to the team dynamic, or it could enforce it,” says Watson. “You really want to make sure that there is a good fit with that person.”

Initiative: Working for a startup demands that employees be driven, focused, and motivated. “It’s the ability to take action; not necessarily needing excruciating levels of direction, but someone who can take direction and run with it,” he says.

Risk tolerance: There’s a certain level of risk with any startup, so new hires need to be comfortable with the possibility that the company could fail. They’ll need to have at least a modicum of risk tolerance if they will stay on long term and not jump ship for something more stable.

Sense of ownership: Startups are all about creating something new, or doing something different. The ideal startup employees, in turn, should have a hunger for innovation and a sense of ownership for their work.

Experience with startups: Past experience working for startups or small businesses is a definite asset. “We’ve had instances where someone has come from a much larger corporate environment, and they just weren’t able to adapt to a startup way of life because they’ve been used to having a whole department supporting them,” says Watson.

By familiarizing yourself with the quirks of startup recruiting, generating buzz about your company, and looking for candidates well-suited to startups, you can grow your team quickly and efficiently.

See also:
The 10 most revealing interview questions
How Shopify finds and fosters talent


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