How to Hire a Winning Startup Team

How to hire a winning startup team

The hiring process is a pretty much important element for any organization as you need to have an efficient and competent team in place to execute and deliver what the company is trying to achieve. For most startups, making the first hire is a huge challenge. Many investors want to see a team of competent individuals committed to an idea before you have funds. At the same time, employees want to be assured that the startup has sufficient funds before joining. This is a common problem. The startup’s outcome is based on the performance of the team. Therefore, a winning startup team is crucial to build and operate an organization successfully.

As Mark Zuckerberg once said, “The most important thing for an entrepreneur trying to build something is, you need to build a really good team.”

Some organizations only get to operate for a short period of time. This may be due to hiring an unqualified team or even poor operations by the team members. Thus, it is important to hire a perfect startup team for your organization. Below, I have highlighted some ideas on how to hire a winning startup team.

Spend enough time during the hiring process

Most startups do not spend adequate time hiring. Upon identifying your vision and determining the marketplace, it is important to spend at least 50% of your time hiring. This may sound crazy as it involves a lot of work, however, it is essential to note that great companies take time to source a great team. You need to spend enough time identifying people, identify potential candidates, and meeting qualified candidates during interviews.

Learn about a role before hiring for it

It is also important for entrepreneurs to learn a role before hiring for it. If you don’t take time to understand a role, it may be very difficult to hire the right person for a specific role. Some founders will hire for certain roles simply because they do not want to get their hands dirty. For instance, a CEO deciding to hire a sales manager probably because there is too much work on his/her plate. This may not work. The CEO may need to first learn and do the role himself/herself in order to acquire greater insights about the job. In the end, he/she can lean on the board to seek opinions on the right candidate to secure the job.

The interview process must be thorough

When looking for individuals for a particular job, there are always requirements for the role, however, competent and effective people are key stakes. During the interview process, talk to the interviewee about what they have done, their outstanding projects and biggest achievements. It is essential to go in depth in certain areas and ask as to how they completed the project successfully. Asking the right questions while checking the references provides an assurance about accomplishing company’s goal. Overall, a good interview should feel like a conversation rather than just a question and answer session. It is important to note that in a startup, those hired are likely to stay in the job for a short period of time, thus, smart and efficient people are readily adaptable. Zoe Barry of ZappRx notes that “Working for a startup is not for the faint-hearted”.

When it comes to hiring in a startup, quality outweighs quantity. You do not want to attract just anyone and spend countless amount of your time going through many applications. It is, therefore, important to have a clear understanding of what a suitable employee looks like before you source in earnest.

Hiring should be a long-term investment

Most new companies perceive hiring as a just in time measure. Getting the right people takes a small part of the hiring process. During the initial stages of the recruitment process, examine the potential candidates resume to ensure it meets your needs. Contact the candidates for interview and gather feedback on their personalities. After the interview, the interviewers can share their feedback and you as the founder can make the final decision.

Consistent media exposure

For startups, it can be difficult to attract the right talent because your brand is still not well-known. The core solution to this problem is for the company to invest in marketing and PR functions. Product launches, funding programs, and hires should be widely publicized. Public relations has evolved over the years and it has several new trends that go with it today. In the same way, hiring the best talent has happened for many startups who spoke to the press about a vacancy. The idea is of course to go out there and tell the story of why you need that hire, and to communicate the inspiration behind your company and ensure it reaches the right candidates with the right mindset. Utilizing a tool like Pressfarm to push for media coverage during the hiring processes is a great way to run a hiring campaign, and to put the name of your company out there.

Social media is also great tool to achieve the publicity. Using the online platform is a great way to attract and hire new employees. It is a cost-effective tool especially for startups that are on a budget. Ensure that your Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc. are set up and you are sharing relevant and timely content. This helps to tell the story of the brand and appeal to new talent. You are able to communicate with the target audience implying that the advertisement will be directly relevant to the audience. You will be attracting people who are engaged and enthusiastic about your brand. Use of social media presence also provides a way to contact people who are not actively looking for jobs but those with relevant skills and experience. Similarly, using social media to give an insight of what the company is doing is an effective way to persuade potential candidates that it offers a conducive environment to work.

Communicate the company brand and culture

The first step to identifying the right people to join your startup is to know why your company exists and why would one want to join your company. Boosting the brand image across all platforms including social media and traditional methods can be effective to attract smart talent. Potential candidates would scroll through for company information on social media as it is one of the simplest ways to assess your brand. An effective social media presence implies an active company culture. It also demonstrates that you value your employees and the milestones they achieve. Employees are your biggest asset when it comes to enhancing company’s image. One of the best ways to get the most out of the employees is by encouraging them to communicate their daily experiences through mediums such as social media which means that you have a strong startup culture. When employees believe in the company they work for and feel appreciated for what they do, they are more likely to stay in the company in the long-run.  Clearly communicate company culture contributes to a good public image and your startup is likely to attract top talent.

Make use of referrals

Recruiting through referrals is one of the best ways to find the right employees in the short run. For a founder, building a strong network is important to grow your startup idea into a successful company. This helps to acquire perfect talent referrals from the startup community. When looking for talent, analyze your network first. Your friends have an idea of what you are trying to achieve and also know the qualities you want as compared to recruiting agencies. You’re your colleagues what you are looking for and they can recommend people to your startup. Likewise, having a stellar employee referral program helps to ensure that the team has placed interest in the recruitment drive for finding competent talent.

Attractive remuneration

According to Jose Ancer, “make sure you are hiring talent with realistic expectations for your company’s stage. Salary and equity expectations are valuable and you can select the right or wrong people”. You should be economical with everything you do in a startup. However, the pay package for the right people is an exception. Experienced talent usually has a high personal burn rate and most startups may be obliged to offer them high incomes. It is essential to note that successful companies are built by experienced people except for a few positions where it matters a lot. You can provide room for negotiations rather than breaking the compensation structure to hire an employee which may be a bad idea since word gets out and some employees may get disgruntled.

Committed to the goal and mission of the company

Recruited employees should be committed to the assigned work to achieve the desired goal of the company.  They should portray enthusiasm to grow individually and contributing to the success of the firm. The team members should be able to blend their personal goals with company goals and demonstrate strong determination to realize them. The team should also be committed to the mission of the company to deliver a satisfactory outcome. Unless the team members are bound to the company’s mission, a firm cannot run effectively and successfully.

Ability to handle challenges

During the initial stages of establishing a startup, numerous challenges and stressful events arise. Smart team members will demonstrate the right skills that will make them perform their tasks best under pressure. Thus, the startup team must be competent and efficient to handle these challenges and move forward.

Do you have anything to add onto this story? Let us know in the comments section.

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