Recruiting for Startups: 7 Things You Need To Do

Recruiting for startups is hard. You need to stand out as an organization and recruit top talent to grow your business. Learn about the 7 things you can do to get a headstart when hiring for a startup.

Recruiting for Startups
Hire Based on Culture Fit

First of all, congratulations on your new venture. It takes guts and sheer determination to decide to start a business of your own. Now that you have decided on a business name, location, and industry, you likely want to begin building your team. Of course, you will be looking for serious-minded individuals with whom you can advance towards the vision of your business, but it’s not that easy. Statistics show that top talent will only remain available for a short period of time and that 73% of job seekers are passive.

Recruiting for Startups: 7 Things You Need To Do

If you are looking for answers to recruitment questions, or don’t even know where to begin, then this article will help you. I am going to share seven things you need to do in recruiting for your startup.

Identify what talents you need

Start by highlighting what your business requires and what talents are needed to carry them out. This will ensure that you are not recruiting arbitrarily and you are certain that everyone on staff is absolutely essential to the business. You will want to make sure that your startup is on budget and not wasting money on unneeded talent.

Highlighting your business needs helps you to measure employee deliverables. If you have hired a marketing professional, for instance, you will expect them to deliver more leads that the sales department can turn into loyal customers.

For an ecommerce business, you should hire an online marketer who can automate your ecommerce marketing and generate more traffic, build a sales funnel, and leads for the sales professionals to close them and increase revenue of your business.

After you have highlighted these needs (operational needs and talent needs), you should evaluate them to make sure that you are not missing anything out. For example, I see a lot of retail businesses focusing so much on marketing that they neglect sales. Lead generation is important, but conversion depends on the proficiency of the sales department. So you should have a professional who is handling sales, just as you hire a marketer- same for mobile marketing.

A good way to evaluate your business needs (in order to identify the talents you need) is by envisioning the business through the eyes of the customer.

  • How will they find the business?
  • What do they need to decide on the product?
  • Is the pricing right?
  • How will they get the product – physically, virtually, or both?
  • How easy will it be for them to consume/use the product?
  • How will they give feedback?
  • How will their loyalty be rewarded?

When you have identified the talents you need, next you need to determine how you want them to work – remotely, on-site, or a hybrid. Logically, this will depend on your type of business. Let’s assume yours is a food business. You will need your food handlers (e.g. chefs, butchers) to be on-site, but you can have everyone else work remotely for a start. This will reduce your operational costs but will require more supervision.

If you decide to have a remote team, you should consider the implications of it. These include training, building a strong team spirit, communicating effectively to eliminate assumptions and conflict, and acquiring the right team communication tools. You would still do these if your team was on-site, but it will require more effort with a remote team.

You also need to determine what type of employment it will be. Would you want permanent staff or contract staff? Again, this depends on your business needs. You’ll have to ask yourself, “Why do I need a permanent staff?” or “Is a contract staff good for me right now?”

It’s important to state at this point that your business needs change as the company grows. So, what might be good for it at the start might not be good for it later, this is why it’s crucial to be sure of your business needs before you make critical decisions.

Contract the hiring to an HR company or do it yourself

There are several things to note when recruiting, including the technical and soft skills of the candidates. There are also legal technicalities and labor laws to comply with. If you feel that you can handle all these details without engaging in illegality or compromising on quality, then, by all means, go ahead and recruit the staff yourself.

If, however, you think it will surpass your capacity, then you should consider contracting the recruitment to HR professionals. Now, you can either consult with an individual HR professional or an HR company. The choice is dependent on your startup size and budget. Whatever choice you make, ensure that your company’s needs are met, and you are getting the best value for your money.

If you decide to go ahead with the recruitment yourself, read up on the roles you are recruiting for and what qualities you should look out for. It is also wise to read up on recruiting errors and how to avoid them.

Things to do if you are hiring on your own

  • Determine what qualifications you want potential candidates to have.
  • Determine the remuneration and benefits your startup can afford to pay and give.
  • Write out the job description, make sure it’s as clear and detailed as possible.
  • Determine what disciplinary measures should be put in place to maintain workplace discipline.
  • Decide if you want to use a recruitment tool or not.
  • Decide how you want the interviews to take place – virtually or physically.
  • Decide what the make-up of your workforce will be – how diverse will it be?

How to hire an HR professional or company for your startup

  • Make a list of the best professionals or companies for your type of business.
  • Read reviews about them before engaging them.
  • Reach out to them with your business needs and make them an offer.
  • Sign a contract that clearly spells out deliverables and responsibilities on both ends.


How much are you willing to pay?

Normally, the best talents come at a higher price and demand more perks. If your startup is not well-endowed and you cannot afford to pay top talent, you can recruit candidates who are open-minded and teachable and then do the hard work of mentoring them until they no longer need it. This is a much harder route and will require strong leadership skills, but you can choose to see it as an opportunity to build a strong team spirit.

Depending on what type of staff you hire, you also need to determine what perks you can afford to give them in accordance with labor laws. Whatever you do, make sure that your remuneration is attractive enough to get the right job seekers applying. You may also consider other non-traditional ways of remuneration, such as shareholding if you cannot afford to pay top talent the fees they desire.

Do a background and reference check

There are several reasons why you should do a background check on your employees or team members. The security of your business is crucial to its progress. You don’t want to employ someone with a history of fraud or violent behavior who will not only put the business at risk but also the other employees. You also want to make sure that an employee doesn't have values that are inconsistent with that of your startup and make other workers uncomfortable.

One of the benefits of doing a pre-empoyment background check is that it saves your startup from future embarrassment. Imagine the PR disaster that can follow a news article showing one of your employees to be a threat to national security.

Doing a reference check also helps you to ensure that you verify the claims of your employees. This is so you don’t end up with an incompetent employee who can deliver little to nothing on the job, or even worse, employ an employee with serious character flaws that will trouble your business.

Onboarding: Sell the vision of the business

This is an especially important part of the process. Now that you have a team, you need to sell the vision of the startup to them. They may not get the entirety of it, but you should give them a working knowledge so that they know what they are aspiring towards.

Your team members should be able to share the identity and vision of your startup in a sentence. Their impression of your vision will influence their commitment, loyalty, and passion for the job. If you do this well, they will share their own ideas on ways to not only improve the vision but also accomplish it.

Onboard new staff effectively

Here's how you can onboard new staff effectively to maintain a positive employee experience.

  • Tell the story of your vision, let them understand what birthed it. If the vision has existed in one form or another before, it might also help to mention this. Communicate visually by using infographics, slides, and other presentation tools.
  • Mention whatever accomplishments you have had in the past. These accomplishments may be related to the present startup or not. What this does is that it gives you credibility as a leader, and shows that you not only know what you are doing but are worth following.
  • Explain the environmental challenges your startup faces and what you are doing about them.
  • Make this session as interactive as possible and allow the participants to ask questions. This makes clear what’s understood and what’s not and guarantees effective communication.

Track progress of staff with measurable KPIs

Set achievable key performance indicators (KPIs) and track your staff’s progress. This will help you to know how well they understood the onboarding session and if they truly align with the vision of your startup. From their work, you can get a sense of their ability to deliver on the job.

It is also beneficial to carry out regular surveys to get a pulse of the working environment you’ve created.

What surveys can reveal about your staff’s progress

  • Extra training, tools, or policies they require to be more productive on the job.
  • The potency of your communication as the director of the business.
  • Employees who are dissatisfied and will likely move to a better paying job or working environment.
  • What customers are saying about your business.

How to set KPIs for your new staff

  • Set short term goals that are easily achievable.
  • Take into cognizance the tools your staff is equipped with. You shouldn’t expect them to deliver stellar results with substandard tools. Train them so they can aspire to new levels of productivity.
  • Make sure that there’s a well-documented schedule of events that draws your staff closer to the goal.
  • Set up an efficient organizational structure that facilitates your plans. The most qualified candidate is not usually the best leader.

Even if you are hiring a manager, it’s important to keep a close eye on the growth of your startup.

Let them draw more like-minded individuals to the business

Don’t take employees’ grievances lightly.

They might not be your customers but they’re like signposts to your business. They will go home and talk about your business with their families, chat about it on instant messaging apps with their friends, or leave bad reviews on job listings sites – reviews that prospective applicants will see.

Glassdoor reports reveal that 86% of job seekers will seek out reviews and ratings before responding to a company’s job ad and that 64% of employees will refer their employers to friends.

Do you see why it is important to keep your employees happy?

If your employees think your organization is dishonest, lacks direction, or treats their staff poorly, they will begin a chain of bad PR that will hurt your startup in places you cannot even imagine. On the other hand, if they love working with you, chances are that they will tell like-minded individuals about openings in your company. In doing this, they will have sold the vision of the business to qualified prospective employees. This way you have less work to do in recruiting them and can expand your staff strength easily.

Another way to build your brand value is by building your employer brand. A good employer brand is great marketing. Embrace a digital strategy and incorporate video marketing solutions to reach out to potential employees and candidates.

Final thoughts

Recruiting for your startup can be a herculean task, but it doesn’t have to be so. If you follow these seven steps you will find that the process is easier than you anticipated. It’s also important to give yourself room to grow in the knowledge of recruitment. Learn from any mistake you make and set structures that guarantee that it does not happen again.

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