The success of any new startup can depend on the talent, motivation, and diversity of its team members, alongside the flexibility and inclusivity of the company itself.
When you’re the new kid on the business block, however, searching for and attracting new talent may be difficult, especially if a great candidate already has a job offer in hand—one from an established company with a verifiable ethos and the means to offer a competitive compensation package.
The hiring process is a two-way street—not only will a potential candidate demonstrate how their expertise and skills can benefit your company, but, more importantly, you’ll need to convince them that your new startup is a place that would benefit from the value and potential they bring to the table.
This is a balancing act, that –– when done right –– can benefit the candidate, your team, and ultimately the future growth of the business.
This comprehensive guide will take you through the preliminary stages of the hiring process, starting with clarifying your company’s values and mission, before choosing the candidate who may enrich your company in ways you’d never anticipated.
The stages of hiring your first employee as a startup
Preparation and creation of the job role
You’re finally ready to build your dream team. You’ve secured funding, defined your startup’s mission and goals, and now you’re ready to onboard.
Not so fast!
First, before drafting a job role, make sure to clearly identify the position or gap that you’d like a potential team member to fill.
When you’re ready to write the role, remember that clarity is key.
Defining the key pillars of the position in concrete terms may allow potential team members to envision themselves in your company, and how they may be an asset in helping it grow. This will also give them room to visualize how their professional journey will advance as a member of your team.
Social media, online job boards, and employment networking sites like LinkedIn are inexpensive (if not free) methods of accessing thousands of potential candidates.
Many startups often don’t have the funds for alternative job sites, like Glassdoor. However, you’ve got to rely on more than your personal pool of colleagues and advisors, in order to ensure you’re getting a proper level of diversity among candidates. Do what you can to reach out to audiences you wouldn’t normally encounter in your everyday work.
Considering applications, interviews, & offers
Once the applications and resumes start rolling in, it may feel stressful trying to narrow the pool and choose who to take the time to interview.
Of course, an interview may not always be necessary, but it can be helpful to meet an applicant and get to know them beyond what’s on paper.
It can be helpful to incorporate a subgroup of your existing team to help narrow the field. This could be a diverse handful of individuals who are familiar with the role, or who’ll be working with the candidate, who can help to give you a broader perspective before you make your final decision. Not only that, but this method highlights that you value your team’s input on important decisions.
The importance of recruitment for startups
As a new startup with a small team and limited budget, finding a high-quality applicant in the early stages is especially important for several reasons:
- You’re just beginning to define your ethos both internally and to the public.
- You want your team to gel and grow with the company.
- Finding your ideal candidate will save you time and money. The stronger the match, the more likely the person will feel valued and want to stay with you for the long haul. (In our estimates, approximately 30% of executive hires don’t pass the 3-month probationary period; take the time to find the right fit.)
Top tips to hire employees for your startup
Get specific with your job description
A prospective team member may not be familiar with your company at all, much less with what its mission and values are.
From their perspective, joining a team without proven results––and leaving behind the security of what an established company might offer, could be a major risk.
Think of the job description as a “selling point,” or a way to persuade top talent that your business will invest in them as much as they’ll want to invest in it.
Be as clear and specific as possible when defining the job role and type of candidate you are searching for. Transparency is key. “When well-written, the job description produces a realistic picture of a job and answers the question, “What does the person in this role actually do?”
Also, it may be helpful to ask for input from your current team members, who may be able to help you refine the role by tapping into their own experiences of the hiring process.
Besides clarity and specificity, it’s also critical to avoid gender-specific language in the job ad, whether it’s specifically-gendered pronouns (“He will conduct weekly meetings…,” etc.) or certain words that are masculine- or feminine-coded (“leader,” “active,” “inclusive,” “responsible”).
This type of language can send a negative message to a potential female or non-binary applicant. You want to show applicants that they can expect to work in a diverse and inclusive work environment. To that end, it would behoove you to comb through your ads to make sure your wording is as inclusive as possible.
One way to do that is to apply a gender decoder to your job ads, like the one created by Kat Matfield based on research from Gaucher et al in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. This particular tool scans your job ad for masculine or feminine-coded words, and determines whether men or women will be more encouraged to apply based on how the ad is worded.
Consider the diversity of your recruitment process
Constructing a team from diverse backgrounds, races, gender, cultures, etc. can create a dynamic work environment teeming with creativity and unlimited potential.
When a job applicant feels your company will value and invest in them for who they are and what they can do, they may be more likely to accept your offer and grow with your company.
Harness the power of social media
Social media has largely replaced radio and Television in reaching a mass talent pool. These free sites (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, etc.) are an innovative way to reach a vast, diverse Millennial audience.
Discovering top talent can be as easy as dropping a hashtag (e.g., #ABCRecruits) and a link to your job ad. Let’s say your startup literary agency is looking for a diverse POC. By recruiting on Twitter, you can create your own hashtag (as in the example above) and also include existing hashtags to reach your community of talent.
In this case, you might also include/Tweet: #Ownvoices or #DiversityinLit, among others. No matter your budget, social media is a valuable resource in the recruitment process.
Prioritise applicants with soft skills such as teamwork and leadership
Whilst advanced degrees and years of industry experience are important for many roles, they won’t tell you about an applicant’s ability to collaborate, lead, multi-task, offer innovative solutions, and more.
Remember––you aren’t hiring a robot! Despite an applicant’s impressive resume, you’ll want to get a sense of their personality, communication skills, and preferred ways of working.
Here are a few soft skills to look out for both early in recruitment and later in the interview stage:
- Work ethic
Offer flexible working in addition to other benefits
If the COVID 19 pandemic has taught us nothing else, it’s that flexible work arrangements are the present and future of work.
Flexible working is highly desirable and beneficial for all parties involved, with research showing that offering flexible working arrangements can improve employee motivation, productivity, and retention.
Not only will offering this benefit show a candidate that you’re willing to tailor the role to fit their needs, but this is an ace in your back pocket when competing with other companies for top talent—as this is what many employees want.
Flexible working arrangements are key to achieving gender equality in the workplace, too. It’s no secret that many women shoulder homecare and family responsibilities on top of juggling their careers. A flexible work arrangement would allow you to hire the diverse talent you’d otherwise miss out on by advertising for a nine-to-five role.
Traditionally understood as “part-time or reduced hours,” flexible working can include any or all of the following:
- Work from home/telecommuting
- Reduced hours
- Shorter/condensed work week (e.g., working three or four days).
- Hybrid working arrangements
- Job sharing (where two or more team members share the same role)
Need a hand fast-tracking your employee hiring?
Your startup is only as strong as the diverse team running it. Whilst budget and time constraints are important considerations as you build your team, they needn’t be barriers that will prevent you from finding a stand-out candidate.
Every new member you onboard will have a butterfly effect on your organization, so it’s critical early on to clearly articulate your company’s mission, the role you hope to fill, and the qualities you’re hoping to find in a future teammate.
Juggle is a low-cost hiring platform where you can find, onboard, and compensate part-time and working professionals for your company on a flexible basis. It also utilises AI “smart matching” to curate a list of diverse and talented applicants based on your hiring needs.
Juggle’s innovative AI-driven recruitment solution will allow you to prioritise gender diversity and expedite the hiring process. You already have enough to juggle with your new startup—so, why not delegate? Building a diverse and talented team doesn’t have to be difficult, expensive, or stressful if you choose to bring Juggle on board.