Having a solid team is crucial in building a startup that goes the distance. But for a new, small company it can be daunting to know where to start, how to attract great candidates, and what to prioritize as you grow. Here are some tips for recruiting top talent for your early-stage startup.
While you may be excited to begin building out your team, as an early-stage company, it’s especially important to think strategically about each new hire, as each is a significant investment for your business. Rather than checking the boxes of corporate titles you think you need to fill, start by mapping out the results you’re looking for and what needs to happen to get there. For example, imagine that your goal is to grow your revenue by X% this quarter. What steps are necessary for that to happen? It could be that you need to be making more sales. In order to make more sales, bringing on a director of sales may be your logical next move.
Similarly, consider the strengths and weaknesses of your current team (which may be just you). Are there areas you no longer have the bandwidth to effectively cover or pressing areas that could be better handled by an expert? These gaps that should take priority.
Before you begin filtering candidates, you’ll need to lay out what skills and traits are needs versus wants. To make this determination, revisit the results you would like to see from this hire. What competencies are non-negotiable to achieve these results? What would be nice to have, but not completely necessary? These should be laid out clearly in the job description.
You’ve identified the gaps in your business, laid out your goals, and determined what competencies are needed to achieve them. Now it’s time to start finding potential candidates. With so many avenues to take, it can be overwhelming to know where to begin.
The best (and often cheapest) place to begin is your own personal network. This is also far less of a gamble because you will likely already have an idea of how this person works, what their skill set is, how you work together, etc. Because of the existing personal relationship, you may also have an easier time talking them into taking a risk and joining you. If they turn you down, you can always ask them if they know someone else who may be a good fit.
If you have exhausted your personal network, your next option is utilizing a hiring platform. Hiring platforms like LinkedIn, Indeed, ZipRecruiter, etc., are all viable options; using more specialized platforms may help connect you with more qualified candidates. Some of these include:
When using these platforms, keep in mind that the candidates using them are also likely applying to other jobs as well, so you’ve got competition. This is why your pitch is so important.
Odds are, your startup won’t be able to compete with the benefits, compensation, and stability that a job at a more established company can offer. Joining a startup is a risky move; if you want to sell it to the candidate, you will need to lay out why it’s a worthwhile move to make.
Just like pitching to investors, you need to be able to pitch your company to job candidates. Oftentimes, personality types who are drawn to startups are those motivated by high-risk, high-reward opportunities. The potential financial upside of getting in at a company early on can be a significant motivating factor for potential recruits.
In addition to the high-risk, high-reward nature of joining a startup, startups also offer employees a unique, hands-on opportunity to help build something from the ground up. Solving problems that are fundamental to the business can be highly motivational for candidates seeking purpose-driven work where they can get their hands dirty. At larger, more mature companies, this kind of do-it-yourself experience can be hard to come by.
Recruiting can be a long, difficult process. For early-stage companies especially, who you bring on to your team can have a profound impact on the trajectory of your business. While it may seem easier to just get vacant spots filled, you will thank yourself in the long run if you take your time with your recruiting and hiring process to find the right candidate for the job.