Congratulations – you managed to cross the hurdle of gaining a Series ‘A’ funding for your dream startup. While reveling in this ‘victory’, you realize that while you have all these brilliant ideas and sufficient resources, you do not have the human resources to implement. It is the time to put together an effective team, and hence an understanding of the hiring strategies for startups becomes essential.
In today’s competitive business environment while it is critical to hire good people, it has also become increasingly tough to find the ‘right’ talent. Without understanding the hiring strategies for startups, and in particular for your own startup, you could be in big trouble. Without a good team, it would be almost impossible for a startup to succeed or even remain in existence for too long. Irrespective of the founder and co-founders, a company’s reputation and success rests largely on its workforce. "If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur." - Red Adair. This quote is possibly one of the best hiring strategies for startups.
A look at some of the top hiring strategies:
1. There is a right time to hire
While a workforce is essential, the person responsible for hiring must decide whether it is time to hire, and if yes, which positions to hire for, and which ones can be filled later. Hiring simply because the startup has the funds, or because the business plan entailed it, are not the right reasons to hire. Startups should typically follow contemporary models, and hence hiring simply to fill vacant positions would not be the ideal method, since this is a traditional mindset. Among the best hiring strategies for startups, is determining the true need to hire, post meticulous planning, and thrashing out all the details.
2. Commitment to Invest Time
After planning and deciding that your startup does need to hire, the next most crucial step is to commit time to the hiring activity. Hiring is time consuming, cumbersome, and can prove herculean even for the most seasoned recruiter. Startups must function at a speedier pace than established companies must. Hence, this aspect combined with fewer human resources, cutting corners for swift hiring becomes the norm. However, this is when bad hiring happens, leading to bigger problems moving forward. It is essential that the recruitment exercise is given due attention and adequate amount of time to make it successful.
3. Learn the Nuances of a Role before Hiring for it
It would be impossible to hire the right person without actually understanding what a particular job role entails. Hence, understanding the intricacies and complexities of a role would be critical to hire right. It would be detrimental to the success of a startup if the top person hires someone at a leadership position simply because she or he does not have any idea of the job responsibilities. The top person must first know how to do a particular job, and only then lean on people to get the actual job done.
4. Hire for Attitude – Hire Effective People
It is always easier to teach someone a job and a skill. However, attitude is inherent and one of the successful hiring strategies for startups (and all companies) would be to hire someone with a positive attitude. Hiring effective people means looking for people with a willingness to learn and practice their learning in their everyday job. Such people are more likely to have optimized work performance, consistently, and the ability to encourage their co-workers.
5. Hire through Cost Effective Means
Using personal networks and sourcing candidates through social media are two of the most effective and low cost methods. Getting recommendations from friends and business associates brings in the feeling of trust and shortens the hiring process. In addition, not all positions need to be on company rolls – the use of freelancers, consultants, and temporary staff is becoming increasingly popular. By using these ‘outsourced’ hires, a startup can save huge amounts of money, hiring only for a fixed period and on an as and when basis.
For permanent on-roll positions targeting passive candidates is a great idea, since this is a ‘pool’ often neglected by larger companies. Search for people with proven ability to work in new setups or those who may have been instrumental in leading a major project to their current jobs.
6. View Hires as an Investment
Many established companies and startups view hiring as a cost. However, hiring the right person is actually a long-term sound investment, and would yield high results in the future. A company’s workforce is its greatest asset, and this should be one of the top hiring strategies for startups too.
7. Keep Top Candidates Interested and Engaged
The lack of experience in hiring could result in the inability to keep the top candidates engaged and interested in working with your startup. The emphasis must shift from an assessment of potential top employees to actually communicating with them at a personalized level.
Setting and managing a startup is no mean task. The founders must remain aware of and be responsible for every aspect of it until they are able to recruit good people. It makes sense to invest in hiring software to conduct psychometric testing and assessment, such that hiring is more about personality fitment than experience. Hiring for a start-up is possibly harder since it is through interactions with the limited employees that the company would communicate with the outside world. Failure to communicate effectively could well be the downfall of a start-up, and hence it makes sense to assess the hiring strategies and implement them very effectively.