- The First 8 People Your Startup Should Hire
- 8 startup roles to hire
- 1. Chief executive officer (CEO) and chief operations officer (COO)
- 2. Product manager
- 3. Chief technology officer (CTO) and VP of engineering hybrid
- 4. Chief marketing officer (CMO) and community manager hybrid
- 5. Sales manager
- 6. Chief financial officer (CFO)
- 7. Business development manager
- 8. Customer service representative
- Importance of hiring the right startup roles
- Positions to outsource
- Company culture
- Asana’s Head of Talent on the Secrets to Finding a Great Startup Recruiter
- When It's Time
- How to Interview a Startup Recruiter
- Can They Tell the Story?
- Are They Team Builders?
- Domain Expertise
- 5 Tips to Make Your Startup’s Hiring Process Way More Efficient
- 1. Standardize your interviews
- 2. Create an efficiency mindset
- 3. Screen candidates with take-home work
- 4. Hold hiring managers accountable
- 5. Track your best sources of hire
- Hiring for startups: Navigating 5 hiring obstacles faced by engineering SMEs
- Challenge 1: Where can I find the time to focus on recruitment?
- Recruitment tips for startups
- Challenge 2: Is my recruitment process hurting my chances of finding talent?
- Improving your recruitment process
- Challenge 3: How much am I supposed to pay new startup hires?
- Becoming more aware of candidate expectations
- Challenge 4: How do I deal with the level of competition for talent?
- How to bridge the skills gap
- Challenge 5: How to improve brand visibility
- Improving your brand visibility
- How Airswift can help you navigate the challenges of engineering recruitment
- 7 Tips To Elevate Your Startup Recruitment Strategy
- Set recruitment goals and Implement Strategies
- Create a Compelling Employer brand
- Showcase Your Company Culture
- Know who you are looking for
- Show off your employer brand with a recruitment marketing strategy
- Build a talent pipeline that yields top candidates
- Leverage unique sourcing strategies
The First 8 People Your Startup Should Hire
- It's smart to hire from the top, then expand your team when your resources allow.
- A major focus when hiring for startup roles is strengthening your business's internal and external relationships.
- It's important to keep your company culture in mind when filling startup positions.
- This story is for new business owners who are looking to expand their team.
You created a product or service, you started your business, and you finally began making a little money – now it's time to hire your first employees.
Figuring out who those people should be, however, is easier said than done.
While you might be chomping at the bit to get some more talent on your team, money is typically tight for startups, so it is important not to rush through the process. You want to hire slowly and vet your candidates thoroughly.
The people you hire will depend on your business's specific needs, but any employee you hire should have a few key qualities: flexibility, passion and trustworthiness. It is important to hire people who are flexible enough to take on diverse responsibilities until you can expand further.
When interviewing new-hire candidates, pose questions that probe a person's drive and how well suited they might be with your company's culture. In addition, use hands-on simulations to get a sense for how the candidate will act in common work situations.
[Looking to bring on some new employees? Check out our recommendations for the best recruiting software.]
Since every employee can have a huge impact on a startup, it is important to hire people you trust. Sue Andrews, business and HR consultant at KIS Finance, said the best way to find your initial team members is by word of mouth and personal recommendations. This can be done by connecting with old colleagues, friends and people from your alma mater.
“If that doesn't give you the right results, then a specialist recruitment agency is a good choice to make sure you find people with the exact skills and experience that you need,” Andrews told Business News Daily. “Good agencies will have contacts in the relevant area of the market and should be able to help you find appropriately qualified and suitable staff.”
8 startup roles to hire
There are quite a few startup roles you’ll want to fill immediately. Here are eight important ones to consider:
1. Chief executive officer (CEO) and chief operations officer (COO)
Two of the most essential players in your business will be the CEO and COO. The CEO is typically the big-picture person who controls the company's direction, vision and culture, whereas the COO is primarily focused on the day-to-day operations to keep your business running.
You can hire externally for these positions, but it is common for the founders of the company to assume these responsibilities. Tierra Wilson, strategic business consultant at Tierra Wilson & Co.
, recommended that you always start as the CEO of your business before hiring out.
If you and your co-founder(s) already plan to take on these titles and responsibilities, look to hire the following five positions next.
2. Product manager
The product manager will be your go-to on all things related to your products. This team member manages the product strategy, vision and development. They typically work closely with the engineering and marketing teams to create and market the product.
Vince Repaci, senior coach at LOVR Atlantic, said that bringing on a product manager can be difficult for founders, as they are typically the initial default product manager and are heavily invested in their own products or services.
“When you [can] afford to bring on a project manager, though, it forces you to change the way you think about the project by documenting and training someone else in it,” he said. “This move allows founders to start working on the business rather than in the business.”
3. Chief technology officer (CTO) and VP of engineering hybrid
A team member who specializes in technology and development is crucial to your business's success, especially for tech startups. Although you can hire freelance front-end and back-end engineers, it can be useful to have someone on your internal team to take charge of this sector. As your team grows, this role can be split into two separate positions.
“Having someone with the skills to decide what will work best for your business, as well as overseeing the integration and management of various systems, is key,” said Andrews. “They'll need to consider everything from hardware to software and mobile technology.”
Andrews said this team member can also take the lead in building your online presence, although this can be split with your marketing manager as well.
4. Chief marketing officer (CMO) and community manager hybrid
This team member will focus on your customers and how they view your product or service. Andrews said that hiring an expert with excellent marketing and promotional skills is essential to make sure your vision reaches a wide audience.
“Find a marketing manager that is a jack-of-all-trades,” said Wilson. “Until you can scale, they should be able to write copy, design collateral, code landing pages, run ad campaigns and handle social media marketing.”
Additionally, they should interact with your customers and act as an interim community manager to maintain positive relationships between your business and consumers. This team member can work with the product manager to incorporate customer feedback into product development.
5. Sales manager
This team member will focus on generating new leads and bringing in money for your company. Wilson said startups and small business owners who master sales first last longer.
“Hire an amazing sales rep or manager, and then use the money they bring in to hire more people,” said Wilson. “This is probably the hardest position to hire for, but [it is] worth the time and effort to get the right person.”
Repaci said that a skilled sales manager in your industry typically won't require a lot of training to generate leads and close deals.
6. Chief financial officer (CFO)
Experts recommend that startups outsource their accounting and finance roles, but if you have the capability to hire a CFO, it can be extremely helpful for your business.
“It's essential that you have someone on the team who is responsible for the money and has an eye for detail to manage all aspects of the company's finances,” said Andrews. “In the early stages, this will range from major issues, such as securing bank lending and leasing premises, to everyday necessities, such as paying suppliers and managing the petty cash.”
7. Business development manager
While similar to the sales manager, a business development manager finds ways to grow your business from both a marketing and sales standpoint. For example, this professional might focus on developing relationships or partnerships with other businesses to increase revenue and potential for growth.
A good business development manager identifies new business opportunities, both within your organization and with other companies. In doing so, they'll consider new markets, areas where you might expand/grow, new partnerships, ways to reach other existing markets, and ways to appeal to ideal customers.
For example, perhaps a competitor is offering a product or service you haven't yet considered. Your business development manager will look for ways to not only keep up with their offerings but also set you aside from them to attract more attention to your brand.
8. Customer service representative
Customer service is a critical task every business should master. Building positive relationships with your customers and clients is the cornerstone of your brand.
It doesn't matter how great your products or services are if your business isn't effectively communicating with its customers and clients. Without a professional handling customer questions, calls, or concerns, your reputation will inevitably suffer. This is a role you’ll want to fill as soon as possible.
Key takeaway: The first positions to hire include CEO/COO, product manager, CTO, CMO, sales manager, CFO, business development manager and customer service representative.
Importance of hiring the right startup roles
A major focus in startup roles is strengthening your internal relationships (between employees) as well as external ones (between other companies and customers/clients).
Without filling these roles, your company will have no direction and lack strong leadership. In fact, 65% of business failures are due to management issues. That's why it's crucial to start at the top, then expand your team when your resources allow.
When filling these roles, it’s important to consider your business's goals and values. Defining these allows you to find better matches and narrow down the skills and qualities you’re looking for in workers.
Key takeaway: When hiring for startup roles, look for individuals who will strengthen your leadership and accurately represent your brand.
Positions to outsource
Several roles can be outsourced to freelancers and external services. Repaci said that business owners should look to outsource anything they aren't great at as soon as their returns justify the investment.
Here are a few common roles many experts suggest outsourcing:
- Accountants and financial advisors
- Administrative workers
- Attorneys and legal advisors
- Content writers and digital marketing freelancers
- Human resources and payroll specialists
- Web developers, designers and programmers
As a rule of thumb, any occupation that is essential to your core business should be filled internally, while anything that is not essential can be outsourced. As your team grows, Andrews said, you may bring these additional services in house.
Key takeaway: Only outsource roles that are not considered essential to your core business.
When hiring staff, ensure that your employees embody your company vision, mission and culture. Andrews said that hiring staff members who have the right values is just as important as finding the right skill set, since they will influence the organization's culture for the future.
“If you get this wrong at the beginning, it's really hard to correct further down the line,” she said. “Diversity brings strength to any organization, but it's important to make sure the team has shared values and are able to work well together.”
As your team grows, Repaci said, you must set aside time to discuss, agree on and align with the type of company you want. Your team and culture will be the basis for your continued success.
Key takeaway: Make sure to match candidates with your company's missions, values and culture before hiring them.
Additional reporting by Sammi Caramela.
Asana’s Head of Talent on the Secrets to Finding a Great Startup Recruiter
The most pervasive challenge for startups today is hiring. It's the most talked about, blogged about and generally frustrating topic in tech.
However, Andrew Stoe, Head of Talent at Asana, believes that very specific types of recruiters can help transform a company into a recruiting machine — and get over the hiring hurdle.
Hint, it's not just looking for someone with “Google” on their resume.
Recruiting at a startup, just building software, is different than at big tech companies and requires a fundamentally different skillset.
Stoe notes, “if you’re a founder and you're looking for a great startup recruiter, you want to find someone who has the ambition to really build a company. If they have that drive, then they'll want to work on everything.
” He continues, “They'll want to know everything that's going on within the company, from the product roadmap, sales numbers and metrics to the history on each employee and why they joined your company.”
A great recruiter should want to dive into all parts of the business. According to Stoe, “you want them to be as invested in the company as possible because when they message that out to people that enthusiasm will come through.”
When It's Time
Changes in the recruiting process occur once a company surpasses 15 employees and wants to hire eight to ten more in the next few months. At this point, it's time for the founders to step back from taking full responsibility fro the entire recruiting process and consider a dedicated recruiter to manage the funnel.
That doesn’t mean the founder isn’t active in recruiting or that the function of building the team can be outsourced. However, it does mean there is the opportunity to get more leverage and scale through a dedicated resource around hiring.
Throughout the early stages of a company’s life, the founding team should continue to spend at least 30% to 40% of their time recruiting. If you're not, then it's not a priority and you can't expect to build a great team.
Stoe joined Rockmelt two weeks before they released their original product from stealth. The founding team had exhaused their own networks and needed to go outbound — and also wanted to make sure they made the most of their big press launch.
Often founders forget that press is a great tool to drive not only customer adoption, but also recruiting. For example, in preparation for launch, Stoe built up an outbound list of star candidates Rockmelt wanted to recruit the first week they launched, right as the press hit.
Rockmelt then had an instant pipeline of technical talent, which converted into a few hires and carried the company over to their next milestone six months later, their Series B.
Stoe then turned to building a recruiting team for the company to reach the following milestone and the process continued.
How to Interview a Startup Recruiter
At a startup, your job as a recruiter is to be an extension of the founding team and help craft the story of the company as well as build the entire process from scratch. It's a method of recruiting that’s more an all-encompassing sales mission than the rote processing of matching resumes to requirements.
When a founder is going to hire that first recruiter, they have to believe that person can share the vision of the company as well as they can.
Stoe went on to share, “The most important thing is finding someone with a lot of enthusiasm who can get people excited about your company.
There are tons of cool startups, tons of cool technology, and so many great opportunities in the Valley, especially right now.
What's going to set that one company apart from everything else? A recruiter should be able to pitch that in a genuine way.”
Can They Tell the Story?
One of the easiest ways to figure out if a recruiter can effectively tell the story of the company is to ask them to pitch their current company and then ask them to pitch your company. This approach should also allow you to both understand how good this person is at story telling as well as help you understand how much research the potential recruiter has done on your company.
While their pitch won’t be perfect, you can often get a sense for the potential and the passion. Also consider asking:
How would you communicate our company’s brand to candidates? What support from marketing would you need to spread that message?
How would you sell our company to different types of candidates?
When do you start the closing process? (hint: you should always be closing)
How do you close a candidate?
Are They Team Builders?
A recruiter at a startup should want to build the team with the same care and thoughtfulness that the product organization wants to build the product and the engineering organization wants to build the infrastructure.
Great startup recruiters are passionate about building the actual company and scaling the team.
That means they need to care about everything from employer branding (how talent thinks about your company) to the entire recruiting process, from first touch point to close and through onboarding.
When trying to identify recruiters who are real team builders, look for people with experience in actually building entirely new teams, not just recruiting for one role at a big company.
For example, someone who helped build out the entire original Android team at Google is way more valuable to a startup than someone who has only been hiring for front-end engineers.
Here are some additional questions to dive into during the interview around building the team:
How do you create a great experience for candidates going through the hiring process?
What types of programs have you built to attract talent? What programs would you build for us?
If you are coming from a large company, what groups did you recruit for at your previous employers?
What’s a realistic hiring plan for our company?
What’s your opinion on using external recruiting agencies?
How do you follow up with candidates throughout the recruiting process?
While you don’t want to get too caught up on recruiting metrics, as each company is so unique, it’s always a good idea to ask the potential recruiter about their close rates for candidates and funnel numbers. It should be reasonable to make an offer to one every three to five candidates that make it through your entire process. A few questions to consider asking:
How many positions have you filled over the last year? What was your close rate?
How long did it take on average for a candidate to make it through your process?
What metric did you use to asses candidate quality post hire?
Walk me through your hiring funnel metrics, meaning number that got to a first call, then second, onsite, etc.
Given that the optimal size for a recruiter to join a startup is anywhere from 15 to 30 people, the company’s culture is established at that point.
The ‘bar’ for talent has been set and you should have a sense for the profile of talent you’re recruiting.
Stoe says, “If you're a startup that focuses on having top talent in a particular area, make sure the recruiter's been around it before.”
It’s more important that the recruiter be able to assess talent for the particular domain that you’re trying to fill than to have recruiting experience alone.” That may come from their previous employers, their personal networks, or both.
Spend time trying to understand how your potential recruiter thinks about top talent and how to find it:
What’s your definition of top talent?
How do you discover top talent?
What were the backgrounds of the team that you recruited for?
What type of network do you have to build a pipeline of candidates immediately?
Domain experience in certain areas that the startup needs, while not always necessary, is often hugely helpful to a startup. Recruiters themselves don’t need to be technical experts, but they should be capable of speaking the same language as the recruits and able to ask relevant questions about the discipline that they’re hiring for.
This is particularly crucial at startups because interviews cost expensive labor time for existing employees who are already time strapped as it is.
Consider asking your potential recruiter some base level technical questions to get a better sense for their technical expertise — however, realize that recruiters won't have the technical depth of an engineer.
An aside: Stoe has also found that, amongst recruiters, membership in sports teams and other community organizations tends to be a positive signal. It indicates that the recruiter is competitive, driven, socially-minded, team-spirited and extroverted enough to be social in constructive ways.
To put all of this into a handful of bullet points, when searching for a recruiter who is going to move the needle at a startup, look for:
Someone who is incredibly driven
A story teller, someone who can pitch your company nearly as well as you can in a genuine way
A pattern of building entire teams and processes from the ground up
A desire to build the company the way the product team wants to build the product
Basic metrics that show they can recruit
5 Tips to Make Your Startup’s Hiring Process Way More Efficient
At a young start-up, hiring is a responsibility the entire team must shoulder – along with a million other things of course, making efficiency absolutely critical in the early days. A disorganized recruitment process (or lack of one entirely) wastes countless hours and makes the difficult task of hiring the right people nearly impossible.
But it’s precisely when a startup is young that they’re most ly to lack structure around hiring and get bogged down by inefficiencies and poor decisions as a result.
To see how startups can avoid the mess and get hiring right from the start, we reached out to talent leaders who’ve been through it all before at small, rapidly-growing companies. Here’s what they have to say.
1. Standardize your interviews
There’s no exact science to recruiting, but don’t make it harder on yourself with haphazard interviews. “If your process is inexact, you’re just magnifying what’s already difficult to nail down,” says Chris Shaw, Director of Talent at Meteor.
Assign interview roles so each interviewer during an onsite panel evaluates candidates for a different skill, and ask each candidate a consistent set of questions.
That way, you have a more objective means by which to measure and compare talent vying for the same position, rather than relying on gut feel. Don’t let this keep you from evolving your process, however.
You should always be iterating and improving upon the way you interview.
Standardization results in a better candidate experience too. When you’re small and trying to prove why people should work for you instead of all the other startups and established companies out there, candidates will be impressed by your high degree of professionalism in interviews. (We’ve all been asked the same question in back to back onsite panels. It’s not a good look.)
2. Create an efficiency mindset
Recruiting is a business function that should be evaluated critically, just any other. “It’s not enough to look at how many people you hire and be content that you hit your goal, if you had to waste your team’s time doing it,” says Quora’s VP of HR and User Operations, Sarah Smith.
Instead, Smith suggests keeping a close eye on how many employee hours go into a hire by understanding what your conversion funnel should look stage to stage.
If less than 25 percent of onsite interviews get an offer, for example, you should consider whether your process could be more efficient.
Look back in the funnel to identify where you need to tighten the process or refine your criteria with the hiring manager.
3. Screen candidates with take-home work
It’s smart to evaluate a candidate’s skills before you extend them an offer, and a lot of companies to do so with high-pressure whiteboard coding challenges.
A more productive way to gauge a candidate’s ability is a take-home challenge, says Meteor’s Chris Shaw. “You want to put your candidates in the position that is most similar to their actual working environment.
That usually means at home and with a computer, not in front of a white board and their element,” he says.
Strong performance on a take-home challenge, says Shaw, is much more ly to translate into on-the-job success. For extra efficiency, Shaw suggests giving an assignment before the first interview. That way, you’ll weed out candidates who look great on paper, but aren’t top performers.
4. Hold hiring managers accountable
A lot of companies hire by consensus. They gather the relevant stakeholders in one room and ask them all to cast their vote. “What you get with consensus hiring,” says Quora’s Sarah Smith, “is that no one feels they’re on the hook. You lose a lot of accountability.”
Instead, you want a consultative decision making process with a feedback loop that leads to one person (usually the hiring manager) who has the power to say yes or no. When someone is on point, you can be a lot more confident that great care goes into each and every hiring decision.
The responsible stakeholder can’t shrug off a poor hire as “just a group call.” What’s more, hiring managers are more ly to act as an advocate and make sure new hires are successful when they feel direct responsibility for the final say.
5. Track your best sources of hire
With limited resources, you want to double down on efforts that yield the best results. Why split your time 50 / 50 between job boards and AngelList, for example, if AngelList yields more and better hires?
As Coursera’s director of talent, Betty Tsan, puts it, “You’ll have better conversions in every stage of your recruitment process if you have a strong, targeted top of funnel source.” Take the time to define your sources from day one, and you’ll have a consistent data set to compare and optimize over time.
Don’t wait until you need ten butts in a chair yesterday to take recruiting seriously. It might feel easier to live and breathe spreadsheets now, but when you’re ready to scale, you’ll be thankful you have a process in place.
For more tips on how to recruit for fast-growing organizations from Chris Shaw, the man who built 's sourcing function from scratch, tune into our ‘Hiring for Growth – Practical Tips from Stealth through Series C’ webinar on Thursday, October 29. Register here.
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Hiring for startups: Navigating 5 hiring obstacles faced by engineering SMEs
Recruiting great candidates can be extremely difficult for engineering startups. The competitive landscape is challenging for all businesses to hire the talent they need.
However, recruiting for startups is even harder, because it means you’re competing with companies who have more resources and higher brand visibility.
In this post, we’ll talk through the most common recruitment challenges faced by startup companies and explain how you overcome them.
Challenge 1: Where can I find the time to focus on recruitment?
When you start building a company, budgets are typically low, and hiring an internal recruiter or talent acquisition manager can be very costly. However, hiring a candidate who turns out to be the wrong fit could cause a lot of damage to a small business in the long run.
Time is a crucial factor in hiring top engineering talent for your company. Without an HR department, it can be tempting to hire as quickly as possible in order to get any pending work done.
However, your first hires will play a huge role in shaping your company culture and future direction, which is why it’s so important to get it right and invest time in the decision making process. But how do you find the resources to make the perfect hire when you’re setting up a new business?
Recruitment tips for startups
Attracting the best talent in competitive technical industries is key to the success of your business. Working with a recruitment agency will help you to hire the right workforce efficiently and quickly. Agencies provide the expertise to act as an external HR function, therefore helping you mitigate unnecessary costs and potential project delays due to bad hires.
This level of expertise will offer a reliable and cost-effective solution to hiring difficulties due to lack of internal resources.
Challenge 2: Is my recruitment process hurting my chances of finding talent?
When recruitment isn’t the main focus of your business, it can be hard to develop a top-down talent acquisition strategy that delivers consistently successful hires.
A lot goes into a recruitment strategy, including best practice job descriptions and a documented interview process that ensures you stay in regular contact with candidates to keep them updated on their progress. If you don’t get these elements right, you risk losing talented candidates. It’s essential to have the best processes in place so you can do everything right consistently.
For example, if you’re a manager or business owner trying to hire candidates and you get sidetracked by something else, even if it’s just for a couple of days, that can send poor signals to the candidates you’ve been in contact with. This is problematic because many candidates value communication above all else when applying for a job.
Another factor to consider when working on your recruitment strategy is how predictable your pipeline is. For example, if you’re using an ad hoc recruitment process every single time, you’ll struggle to forecast the time and resource needed for hiring, as you won’t have a repeatable, effective process.
Improving your recruitment process
When it comes to improving your recruitment strategy, candidate communication is essential. It’s also important to have an engaged contractor base and jobs board, to keep candidates in the loop about new opportunities at all times.
During the recruitment process, it’s useful to use techniques video interviews to keep candidates engaged and up to date with what’s happening with their job application, so you’ll never lose the trust and engagement of the individuals you want to hire.
Challenge 3: How much am I supposed to pay new startup hires?
For a startup owner-manager tasked with hiring people, a lack of knowledge of the wider jobs market can be a challenge. For example, when you’ve never hired for a particular role or seniority before, it can be difficult to know what kind of salary to pay.
It’s easy to assume that the best talent will have high salary expectations, but there are often other factors that draw them to a job, such as location, lifestyle and exciting, innovative work that aligns with their career goals and aspirations.
Being aware of candidate expectations means understanding not only what candidates expect in terms of salary, but also what they’re looking for in terms of other workplace benefits.
Becoming more aware of candidate expectations
Working alongside a global recruitment agency can provide you with access to accurate salary benchmarks and information on non-salary benefits pertaining to your sector.
It’s also beneficial to conduct plenty of research into the jobs market. For example, the Global Energy Talent (GETI) report provides the latest, up-to date information on the jobs market through surveys with employers and employees within the energy industry, to help you understand what potential candidates are looking for in terms of salary, career opportunities, benefits and more.
Challenge 4: How do I deal with the level of competition for talent?
One of the biggest challenges associated with recruitment for technical and engineering roles, regardless of sector or company size, is that STEM skills have been in short supply worldwide for many years.
This problem poses a serious problem for busy startup businesses because they are already juggling the process of setting up their organisation with keeping new projects moving and within budget. This can make sourcing talent without impacting cost and time very tricky.
How to bridge the skills gap
One way to bridge the skills gap is to recruit from non-local labour markets and from outside of your sector, i.e. from areas where there are transferable skills. However, this approach requires a level of understanding of other sectors that startup business owners and line managers might not have.
Again, working with a specialist recruitment agency can help here. They can take on the burden of sourcing candidates for your business by searching within other areas that have transferable skill sets, giving you more time to run your company.
Challenge 5: How to improve brand visibility
Available candidates will tend to search for jobs with companies they’re aware of, and that already have an established reputation. This puts startups at a disadvantage because they often haven’t had the opportunity to build their employer branding and visibility before beginning the hiring process.
Unfortunately, reputation isn’t something that is earned quickly; it can take years of good service to develop a brand that people know and trust. This can make it difficult to attract potential employees who have already had job offers from well-known, highly reputable companies.
Improving your brand visibility
In the short term, working with a recruitment agency can help you ensure your job specifications and advertisements are attention-grabbing, and promoted to the right audience. They will also explain to candidates why they should be excited by an opportunity with your business.
Then, in the longer term, agencies can offer advice and consultancy on how to build an effective employer brand, including competitive salaries, employee benefits and finding employees who hold the same values as your company.
How Airswift can help you navigate the challenges of engineering recruitment
Airswift is committed to helping companies of all sizes find the candidates they need. Even if your business is just getting started, we have services designed to assist in building your workforce and your hiring strategy.
We have more than 40 years of experience in helping companies of all sizes recruit engineering talent in countries across the globe. We offer a range of services, from consultancy and managed services to global mobility solutions and relocation services. Find out more by visiting our services page.
7 Tips To Elevate Your Startup Recruitment Strategy
As a startup, it can be challenging to know how and where to recruit great candidates, or even know what a great candidate looks . Not only that, but recruiting trends and tactics are always changing as employers get more crafty with their sourcing techniques.
To help you determine where to focus your energy, we created this recruiting for startups guide. Feel free to click the links below to skip ahead.
FREE E-BOOK: SCALING YOUR RECRUITING PROCESS – 40 TIPS FROM THE PROS. DOWNLOAD HERE.
Table of Contents
Set recruitment goals and Implement Strategies
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The first thing you need to do when creating a recruitment strategy is to determine your goals along with metrics to track your efforts and measure your success.
There are several recruitment metrics you should identify and measure so your team can improve at every stage of the recruitment life cycle but it’s especially important to understand the true cost-per-hire of new employees.
There are a number of factors that contribute to hiring costs, and as a startup, you can't waste time, money or resources. By figuring out how much a new hire should cost on average and how much your team is spending on different aspects of the recruitment process, you’ll be better able to tailor your recruitment strategy.
Another unique factor startups have to take into account when planning their recruitment strategy is how funding affects its ability to hire and grow as a company. It’s important to know that recruiting tactics will change before, during and after a round of funding, so anticipate your hiring needs and develop loose strategies for whether or not you are currently raising funding.
Create a Compelling Employer brand
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In order to get candidates in the door, they need to think of your company as an employer of choice. Startups are smaller in size and not as well-known as big-name brands, so it’s harder to get on candidates’ radar. For that reason, it is critical that startups create a stellar employer brand to gain the trust of job seekers and encourage them to apply.
Start by drafting your mission statement, which should summarize your purpose, goals and core values. Your mission statement and core values will help you define your employer brand and the reputation you want to have with employees, job seekers and key stakeholders.
Your employees most accurately reflect your actual employer brand, so it's smart to start building your internal employer branding team. To better understand where your team stands, ask employees to complete an employer branding survey.
From there, you can build out your external employer branding strategy with a strong social media plan and promote employee spotlights. Your employer brand will help candidates get excited about working for your company because they'll have a better understanding of what it's to work there.
Showcase Your Company Culture
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Having a small team makes defining a particular type of company culture more difficult. Not only that, but each new hire will have a much greater effect on your culture than they would at a larger company. Though tricky to implement, the desirability of startup culture among job seekers is a huge advantage.
Whether you have a flat hierarchy, more flexibility or exciting opportunities for growth, it’s important to share all that you have to offer with candidates through your employer branding efforts. And if you’re not satisfied with your culture, test out some new company culture ideas and check out these examples of great culture for inspiration.
Know who you are looking for
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Sourcing candidates is one of the biggest challenges any company faces in its recruitment efforts. However, there are a number of tactics startups can use to improve the quality and quantity of candidates they bring in the door.
Long before you start engaging with job seekers, it’s important to create candidate personas for each role that opens up. These personas will help you determine everything about the role, including skill requirements, preferred experience level, geographical location as well as where and how you will find the individual.
In addition to candidate personas, create an employee value proposition (EVP). This will define both the attributes of your ideal candidate as well as the attributes your company has to offer the candidate. By defining what you are looking for as well as what you have to offer, you will be better prepared to sell your company while assessing a candidate's fit.
With your role and EVP defined, you can create clearer job descriptions with all of the information candidates need to evaluate the opportunity.
Make sure to include additional information on job descriptions beyond requirements and responsibilities, perks, benefits and compensation, to make your company stand out from all the other mundane job descriptions candidates review during their search.
Also, be mindful of any unconscious biases that may affect your teams’ decision for selecting great candidates.
Just because you are a smaller and emerging company does not mean that you are exempt from prioritizing diversity, inclusion and equity as part of your hiring and retention process.
Aside from it being a reflection of moral high ground, two three candidates actively look for companies that not only value diversity and inclusion but actively make an effort to create a workplace that welcomes and values all.
Show off your employer brand with a recruitment marketing strategy
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As a startup, it can be difficult to connect with top candidates amidst the noise of better-known employers.
Job seekers ly don’t know how to find your company and even if they do, there is a lack of trust with an unknown company? That’s why it's absolutely necessary for startups to create a robust recruitment marketing strategy that shows off their unique employer brand.
While there are a number of recruitment strategies you can use to market your company, your candidate personas, mission, values and employee value proposition will help you identify the most pertinent information to share with candidates.
No matter your strategy, the one platform candidates will always land on and go to for information is your career page.
This should hold all of the information you include in your recruitment marketing content and more.
From job descriptions to perks and benefits, company culture, recruitment process FAQs and employee testimonials, your career page should be the one stop shop for candidates to learn everything about your company.
Identify third-party platforms to connect with specific candidate personas on the platforms they use most.
Social media recruiting should be a significant part of your strategy as the vast majority of candidates find jobs on social media.
Additionally, creating social media content for employer branding is a great way to show off your unique startup culture in a more natural and candid way.
Creating employee spotlights helps employees share their favorite parts of working for your company and allows job seekers to gain insight from reliable sources. Ask employees questions about their work experiences and share their responses as social posts, or create recruitment videos with several employees to provide a broader showcase of your teams.
Another part of your employer branding strategy should include highlighting information about your company culture. Promote team outings, celebrations, events and anything that provides insight on a day in the life of your employees. Company culture videos can be repurposed across platforms, making them well worth the investment.
Build a talent pipeline that yields top candidates
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For startups, it’s even more important to create a memorable candidate experience. Top candidates are going to apply to all the best jobs, so to keep candidates interested in your opportunities, you need to stand out through every interaction you have with them.
As you start attracting candidates, you’ll want to have a plan in place for how you intend to move prospects through your talent pipeline. From initially identifying candidates to screening and interviewing them, it’s important to have a clear path in place for who and how your team will continue to nurture candidates throughout your recruiting life cycle.
Keep in mind that since you are just getting started, you may not always need to hire full-time employees.
Instead, it may be in your best interest to hire part-time, short-term or freelance employees to determine which roles are critical for your company’s success.
You should also look for candidates who have experience working with startups and the ability to wear multiple hats within the company, that way you can hire a full-time employee who can balance multiple duties.
When you start to choose top candidates, it’s important to differentiate those that are going to fit into your culture and those that are going to be culture adds, meaning they have all the qualities needed to succeed in the role, plus a unique background or different experiences. These people will bring new ideas and challenge your current conventions, not to mention build out a more diverse team.
Don't forget about the interview process. It’s already taxing enough for candidates to be on the job hunt, let alone taking the time to research a company and submit an application that is exhausting and time intensive. By simplifying your application process, candidates will be more ly to start and complete applications, creating a wider talent pool for your team to choose from.
Candidates that make it to the in-person interview are the ones you really want to ‘wow’ with a unique interview process. Even if candidates don’t end up getting an offer or they don’t accept your offer, a positive experience will make them more ly to reconsider employment at your company in the future or at least recommend your company to people within their network.
Leverage unique sourcing strategies
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As you continue to grow and hire new people, know that you don’t always have to source candidates from scratch.
Instead, you should always start by looking within your company to identify employees who would be suitable for an internal promotion.
By providing professional growth opportunities and showing your best employees you value their work, you’ll reduce recruiting costs as well as boost employee engagement.
Even if you don’t have any suitable employees for the role, you can still ask employees for help filling roles. Create an employee referral program that encourages employees to refer qualified people within their networks, and if their referrals are hired, reward employees with prizes or monetary bonuses.
It’s also beneficial to host regular recruitment events to get to know people within your community and build your employer branding awareness. You don’t have to spend a ton to make a successful event. Learn more about different recruitment event ideas to determine which is most suitable for your budget and will vibe with your ideal candidate personas.
And for the people within each of these different networks, it’s important to create a meaningful talent community. These are the people who have engaged with your brand as a prospective employer, but aren’t right for your current open roles.
Continue to stay in contact with these people on a regular basis and make sure they’re the first ones to know about open roles.
This will save you time and resources connecting with candidates who have already shown an interest in your employer brand.
As a startup, your recruitment tactics will be a bit different from other companies and that’s OK. The most important thing is to leverage the unique features your company has to offer candidates throughout your recruitment strategy to stand out as an employer of choice. For more information on building a stellar recruitment strategy, check out our other tech recruiter resources.
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