Hiring Strategy for Startups - Ascent Conference

Hiring Strategy for Startups

hiring strategy

Funding is just one of the milestones that startups encounter when starting. The next biggest challenge when it comes to growing a startup is hiring. A startup without the right individuals, in the right roles, and at the right time, will fail in one way or another. That also implies that as your startup begins to expand, every new hire will change the DNA of your enterprise significantly. That is why you should adopt a specific hiring strategy and a systematic approach when hiring.


How Much Time Should You Spend Hiring?

During the initial stages of any startup, you need to be the head recruiter, which implies that you should spend at least 20% of your time on this activity. That is equal to a day’s work. The reason is that between the time when a startup gains traction to when it scales, most executives and founders tend to shift their attention away from recruiting activities.

Note that assembling an outstanding founding team can be a full-time job, and that is okay since you can handle the responsibility when a firm is starting. As you plan your hiring strategy, you need to build your team gradually while addressing each hire as an independent, sequential challenge. Once the company hits traction, you begin another stretch where there is so much to do, and the resources available at this point are insufficient.

Soon, there is no redundancy or extra management responsibilities, and since you are busy with a bit of an engine going, recruitment suffers. Although that may not deal a blow to your organization in one day, you will be operating with a lean team, and adding senior managers to help scale your enterprise will not be possible.

So, after the initial scale, you need to spend at least an hour each day on recruiting, which will entail the following;

  • Networking As Much As Possible — Dialing down networking and dialing up the execution part is a priority within the initial stages of traction and scaling of startups. As much as that is the case, you should not cut back on events, networking, or any other activity that allows you to make quality connections.
  • Meeting Every Potential Candidate — Even if you are not planning to hire someone for a particular position at the moment, but there is a potential recruit on your list, meet them anyway because you can learn from them. Such an individual can also recommend another great candidate, and they may be part of your team soon.
  • Engaging, Paying, and Becoming Highly Responsive to Recruiters — Your team has a lot to do after the initial scale and since you still need to recruit, do not cheap out on recruiters. Also, remember that recruiters work on contingency. For that reason, you need to be responsive by giving them feedback within 24 hours every time they send you a candidate.

It is a fact that some activities may appear to be of less importance than other pressing matters post-traction. However, if you fail to invest sufficient time in such a responsibility like recruiting, you will not get the help you need, and finding the unicorns will not be forthcoming.

What Happens When You Make A Mis-Hire?

Sometimes, a startup may make a mis-hire, and when that happens, you should not address the issue with the executives alone. You need to move with speed to reduce the number of weak hires you can expect going forward, so build this into your hiring strategy. That way, you will spend less of your scarce capital, fewer customers will end up unhappy, and your future development plans will not slow down unnecessarily.

Here are a few signs of a mis-hire.

  • A decline in the net retention of employees.
  • Fewer sales as a result of tension between team players.
  • Multiple complaints from clients regarding your products/service delivery.
  • Decline in qualified leads.
  • Collaboration challenges between departments.
  • The revenue per lead or at least net new bookings fail to go up in one sales cycle.

The red flags above are telltale signs that something is off, and you can wait to see if things get better. If there is no positive change, it will be evident that prompt action is not an option.

What to Look for in Potential Employees for Startups

Identifying great workers is no mean task. As such, you need to identify the top priorities for your new hire before you begin the hiring process. These will include;

  • Specifying whether you need someone with in-depth knowledge in a specific area or one with a broader range of expertise and experience if you are focusing on hires of greater value.
  • The level of experience the applicant needs.
  • Necessary skills for a particular role.

Taking time to analyze available applications can help you identify the key traits to look for in prospective applicants before the hiring process begins. Below are some of the things worth considering.

1. Culture Fit

You need to appreciate the fact that culture fit is as important as finding someone with the right skills for your startup, and that is not something you can assess by merely looking at an applicant’s resume. Also, the people you hire now will have a direct impact on the individuals you bring onboard going forward, and that does not suggest that you should hire someone like yourself.

By doing so, your startup team will lack diversity, and you will be sacrificing on the creativity, knowledge, and experience of a diverse workforce.

2. Attitude vs. Skills

Imagining that the most qualified candidate is all you should focus on when hiring is a misconception because attitude is just as important in a small startup team. Since you cannot pick this quality out from a resume, you need to consider it during the actual interview.

3. Soft Skills

It is possible to overlook empathy, communication skills, adaptability, interpersonal skills, creativity, and teamwork when analyzing job applications and even as you interview multiple applicants. These qualities are critical because they complement the practical skills that are easier to demonstrate.

4. Potential vs. Experience

Striking a balance between hiring an experienced candidate and one with less experience but the potential to learn and grow with your startup is something you cannot afford to ignore. The right mix of potential vs. experience depends on several things, including the capabilities of your current team, your company’s culture, your startup’s long-term growth plans, and the role you are recruiting for at any one time.

Don’t Neglect Your Hiring Strategy!

A wrong hire can make or break your organization. A great team working in an environment with a positive, dynamic, and inclusive culture can be the competitive advantage your startup needs to outgrow your competition. The details above can help you develop a comprehensive hiring strategy to avoid hiring mistakes that may cripple your otherwise-promising startup.




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