How do You Recruit for a Startup?


Let’s be honest, startup recruitment is easier said than done.

When a company is new and doesn’t yet have a reputation or online presence, it probably won’t attract the best applicants. Equally, it might not yet have the money to pay for the very best talent.

When you’re growing your startup, you want to have the best team possible working towards the same goal. So how do you recruit the best talent when no-one knows who you are,  they’ve never heard of your startup, and have other enticing job offers?

Despite these challenges, there are some useful tips that will help you grow your business with passionate and highly skilled people.

Interested? Read on to discover the four things you need to consider to make the right hires during startup recruitment.

1. Evaluate Your Needs and Start Small

Work out what skills, experience and personal qualities you need from new employees. You need to think in the long-term; what is needed to grow the business to where you want it to be?

For example, if you don’t have the expertise or experience to build a website or do photography then it makes long-term sense to hire someone who can do these things.

You want to build up a loyal and motivated team, but the truth is you may not get your “dream team” straight away. It is better to hire gradually and keep a smaller team in the early stages of building your startup.

2. Be Proactive With Outbound Sourcing

If you advertise a vacancy and wait for people to come to you, generally only people actively searching for a job at the time will see it.

78% of Americans lie on their resume, often claiming to be proficient in skills they have no experience in, or tweaking their previous job titles. This means that many applicants applying to join your startup may not be the best fit, and just want any job, rather than your job in particular.

The best candidates for the job probably aren’t looking for a job so you need to be proactive and go to them. LinkedIn is a great place to do this.

Making the right hires is so important, especially early on. The time you spend sourcing talent will be a great investment.

3. Ask the Right Questions During the Interview

During interviews you need to evaluate if applicants have the necessary drive, ambition, and work ethic. The best way of doing this is by catching them off guard with unexpected questions that require authentic answers.

A good example of this is a question like: “What would your best friend tell me they dislike about you?” Ask the traditional questions about their experience and what they would bring to the role, but mix in some of these questions to really understand who they are.

New hires will need to work closely with a small team of people, so during the startup staffing stage, you want to figure out candidates’ traits, the good and the bad. This is a great way to do this.

4. Choose People Who Share Your Vision

This is a no-brainer, but you need to hire employees who share your vision for the start-up. Share your long-term goals and planned progression with applicants and gauge their enthusiasm. 

Look for people who want to commit to the journey, are passionate about the startup’s values, and are results-oriented and prepared to work under pressure

Remember what you have to offer that the traditionally “more-attractive” corporations and multinationals can’t provide. Your number 1 differentiator can be your Culture. Think about why many people leave the corporate world for startups. What are they missing at their cushy job that they feel they can get at a startup?

Craig Bloem wrote a piece for Inc where he goes over 5 ways you can differentiate yourself for top candidates.

Also important to remember: rockstar candidates may not be the right fit for you even though they’re perfect on paper.

Recruit for a Startup in Four Easy Steps

With these tips, startup recruiting doesn’t need to be hard work. Above all, any time and effort you put into the recruiting process will be a smart long-term investment.

If you enjoyed this article about how to recruit for a startup and want to learn more about everything from dealing with “brilliant jerks” to improving workplace culture, you’re in the right place. Join us to learn more today!

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