A Team, For Starters: Attracting the Right Talent For Your Startup

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Assembling a startup is like baking a cake.

You’ll need specific ingredients, precise measurements, and perfect timing for the recipe to work — miss any one of these things and your cake will turn out almost inedible.

If there’s one thing that budding business leaders must prioritize at the early stages, it’s not the customers. It’s not even the product. It’s the ‘eggs’ that bind all the other ingredients together and add stability — your team.

How to Attract Top Talent for Your Startup

Putting together a talent pool that will share your goals and vision can be daunting, especially when combined with all the other pressures facing startups. But as challenging as it may be, the success of your startup actually depends on your ability to assemble a good team — a diverse set of individuals with unique personalities and skill sets. 

For this reason, great companies are willing to spend resources on great talent, but prospective candidates may think twice about joining a new company given the current business climate. Here’s how you can open your startup’s door to top talent:

1. Communicate your company values.

Your company values define your business at its core, so it’s important that every facet of your startup is grounded in them. As talent advisor Jacqui Maguire once said during one of her sessions with us, “Your organization’s values and culture should be one and the same, but authenticity should be a key aspect.” Your hiring ads, company culture, and proposition for candidates should all embody your company values because the sooner a prospective talent gets immersed in them, the better.

2. Offer competitive compensation packages.

Top candidates likely compare compensation packages when weighing their options, because let’s be real: candidates don’t want to run the risk of getting underpaid, especially if the startup they’ll be joining is still in its early stages.

Once you receive your next round of funding, prioritize budget allotments for salary adjustments, particularly for those people who’ve been on board for at least a year and a half. Another option would be to grant them equity as compensation if a salary increase can’t be worked out yet.

3. Be flexible in the recruitment process. 

The shift to remote work has made recruitment harder and easier at the same time. It’s harder in the sense that cues aren’t communicated easily when compared to in-person interviews; and easier, because you can scout for great talent wherever they may be in the world.

Moreover, recruiters can go the extra mile and offer flexibility in the pacing of interviews, such as if they want to have back-to-back interviews or whatever their schedules permit. Doing this can actually support a better hiring process, especially in the current world we’re in, where considerations are often needed and highly appreciated.

What to Look For in a Candidate

You’ll need people who are not only competent, but will also be able to grow with you. Here are the things to consider when hiring potential talent for your SaaS startup:

  • Skills and attitude. While skills and core competencies are crucial for any role, an employee’s attitude towards work and their colleagues matter, too. With hybrid work environments becoming the norm, you’ll need people who are able to balance being efficient at work while still maintaining rapport with their peers, especially from a distance.
  • Expertise. When recruiting new talent, you may find it hard to decide whether to hire someone who’s experienced deeply in one area, or someone who’s experience may not be as deep, but has more breadth and cross-disciplinary expertise. If your startup is in its growing stages, it might be wiser to go for the generalist who can seamlessly cross over to other roles when needed, then pivot to hiring more specialists for defined roles as your company scales.
  • A great culture fit. Skills? Check. Attitude? Check. But is the candidate comfortable with your company culture? The recruitment process itself should tell you if someone will be a good culture fit, and if they’d be able to influence it as the company grows. And if it doesn’t, then you need to make adjustments.

Final Thoughts

In the words of Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, “the secret to successful hiring is this: look for people who want to change the world.” Getting people with big ideas over to your team is a surefire way to grow, but so is having employees who are passionate, driven, and are able to embrace company culture.

Have you gotten past the initial hiring phase? What’s your startup recruitment story?

Learn more about attracting top talent for your startup in the upcoming Spotlight on Startups, a highly anticipated gathering of senior thought leaders in SaaS. Register now for November 17th!

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