The challenges startups face when hiring staff.

startup office

The challenges startups face when hiring staff.

One aspect of my job that I love is when I get the opportunity to recruit for a new startup. Typically this happens when a startup reaches 10 – 20 staff and can no longer rely on leveraging their network to scale their team. In many cases I start recruiting for companies who have tried to remedy this by advertising. But when you’re a startup with little or no brand awareness, not to mention the internal resources needed to run and manage advertising campaigns this strategy soon shows it’s limitations. By advertising alone you really are putting all your eggs in one very small basket. From a cost perspective it appears to be an attractive solution but the reality is you’re never going to build a company with a single approach to recruitment. 

The impact hiring the right staff in those early years as a startup is immense. These people play a crucial role in shaping the growth story of your business. 

Whether you’re recruiting in Dublin, New York or Melbourne you will soon realise that so much of the talent is being hoovered up by the big tech companies. To use Dublin as an example, many of the multinational tech companies based here have hundreds and in some cases thousands of staff on their books. They pay above and beyond practically every other industry and offer stock and benefits the likes of which are beyond the means of almost all startups. So how do you compete with these deepest of pockets?

Introduce an employee stock ownership plan. 

While common in the US it’s something I don’t come across as often in other countries. When speaking to potential candidates on behalf of startups this is without doubt one of the questions that comes up when discussing remuneration. 

Have a clearly defined compensation package. 

You have to be able to communicate your compensation offer clearly. Candidates can get cold feel at the 11th hour and you will create a concern where there shouldn’ be any if the compensation isn’t clearly defined. That includes potential review dates, if there is a bonus, how that is achieved and so on. 

Keeping momentum in the hiring process. 

If candidates are interviewing with you and weeks go by where they hear nothing then they are likely to lose interest. Plan the process, define the stages and keep the candidates engaged otherwise you risk losing potentially great people. 

Write a proper job description. 

Know what you are looking for and the skills necessary to do the job. A well written job description will help you attract the right people .And if you’re working with a recruiter it’s essential they have a copy at hand when speaking to candidates. 

Share your vision for the future. 

Don’t keep your cards close to your chest. This is not the time for poker face. You are building a startup because you passionately believe in what you are doing so let the candidates see this. 

Hire an inhouse HR person. 

Or outsource this function. But don’t think you can build a team without someone well versed in HR best practices. 

As a startup it is necessary to hire the best staff available. They need to be able to handle the challenges faced working in a face paced environment. Implementing a recruitment process that is well thought out and time effective will help you attract these people.