How to Choose the Right Employees for Your Startup

It can be an especially daunting and time-consuming task. Because of this, stressed-out managers may be tempted to hire someone who looks good and is readily available without putting too much thought into the hiring process. But the irony in this is that the less time they put into looking for ideal candidates, the more this may cost their business in the long run.

How to Choose the Right Employees for Your Startup

Any startup can optimize the hiring process by following a few key steps to hire the right candidates:

1. Plan and strategize the job posting and description in accordance not so much with hard qualifications (these can be tested) but more in accordance with how the role should mesh with the company culture in the big picture.
2. Use mechanisms (such as recruitment specialists and/or software) that are most easily streamlined into the company plan to ensure that the screening and hiring process is as efficient as possible.
3. Test candidates both during the application and by offering a temporary probation or contract period.


Map out your Priorities and Strategy

It’s important to identify and incorporate your company’s short, medium, and long-term objectives in order to determine the right candidate fit. This means considering company culture, workplace structure, and long-term vision in the context of the role to be filled. Because you are probably dealing with a small team, you need to have a clear vision of what the role entails now, as well as how it may evolve with the company in the future.

In addition, some roles will call for more specialized skill sets than others, so a hiring strategy should be developed based on the nature of the role itself. Managers may also want to consider putting more emphasis on the hiring process if it is in a highly-specialized or high-responsibility arena.

An interesting consideration (as noted by Techcrunch) that management may not think of is whether to hire someone with complementary traits or a high level of expertise in a certain area. It may be that, for instance, the company already has 3 employees with 5+ years of experience in Java. If the role requires only a minimal knowledge of Java but has the capacity to evolve into a role with a more diverse skill set, you may want to focus on hiring candidates with the complementary skill set in order to offer the team a fresh perspective.

Once your team figures out the framework for the ideal candidate, they will then have to assess a realistic budget and timeframe for hiring. The important thing is not to rush into hiring just because there is a perceived need to “fill in the blanks” of a traditional set of roles.

Personality Traits

The very nature of startups is that they can be both highly stimulating and filled with innovation, but they can also be highly unpredictable and even volatile at times. The atypical structure of many new businesses in the connection economy means that leadership may take on more of an egalitarian structure than traditional hierarchical business structures.

Startups are typically run by risk-taking entrepreneurial types who think outside the box, so the rest of the team has to be able to follow suit in this manner. This means that candidates should be ready to take initiative and act as a leader to the extent that many traditional employee roles might talk about but never allow for.

In addition, team members should be hired based partly on their diverse skill sets and abilities—this goes without saying. But they also need to be assessed for their capacity to emotionally cope with high-stress levels that often accompany the constantly changing nature of startups.

Above all, for most startups, it’s a good idea to find candidates who are extremely action-oriented. This means that they are able to foresee problem or growth areas and jump right in with ideas and solutions, even if the particular issue at hand is not exactly related to their role. This is what Jim Collins, author of the book Good to Great, explains. The idea is that these people are incredibly adept at “artfully managing change” in such a way that they remain in alignment with the company vision, mission and (sometimes shifting) goals. In other words, they should be both resourceful and team-focused in their problem-solving approach.

Techcrunch recommends not hiring people who “would like” to work at a startup, but instead hiring people who “work like a startup.” Startups should also look for people who can see the “big picture” vision of the company as a whole and are able jump in to keep the wheels spinning on an ongoing basis.

Find the Best Software for your Unique Needs

There are a huge range of software products available on the market today for startup entrepreneurs to consider if they are looking to automate the hiring process. In this case, it is still important to consider that pre-employment background checks that are also an essential part of hiring process. Choosing your key desired features as you review a selection of highly recommended options that are suited for small businesses.

Workable is one of the best-rated recruitment programs for small- and medium-sized businesses that integrates smoothly with major social media and hiring programs like Indeed and Facebook. Workable offers managers the ability to track applicant status and workflow, post openings to well-known job sites, and customize job applications frequently.

Another well-regarded software option for small-business hiring is Lever. Lever easily integrates with a huge range of popular applications including Google Calendar, LinkedIn, Slack and AngelList. Beyond onboarding and application tracking, other features include data visualization, data exporting and feedback management.

Recruitee is a cloud-based, software product that comes highly recommended by users. The multi-user interface offers features like recruitment analytics, conversion tracking, automatic posting to job boards, and data import/export. This is a good option for startups that plan on a fairly rapid expansion since it is set up for unlimited users.

Focus on Key Criteria and Test for It

Before hiring, managers should carefully assess of how the role is best filled in terms of not only hard skills and soft traits, but how the candidate will fit in with the company culture. If they’re sorting through a huge pile of resumes, they should have a prioritized criteria list at their side at all times. They should also be willing to adjust the priority criteria list as well as the job ad as they work through candidate profiles and interviews.

Managers should not hesitate to offer a probationary or contract period of a few months to start a candidate off. This is especially fitting given the unstable nature of startups today as well as the capacity for virtual entrepreneur employees to easily “float” to the next contract should they feel they aren’t a right fit. A few months is typically an adequate amount of time to test the waters, assign a few starter projects that they can complete, and get an all-around sense of how they communicate and cope with stress.

Because most startups don’t have a lot of wiggle room in the way of operating expenses, hiring managers will want to nip any problematic relationships in the bud sooner rather than later lest they end up liabilities rather than assets.

Laura Greene
About Laura Greene


Laura Greene is one of the content managers for TrustedEmployees – creative people who provide businesses, non-profits, and volunteer organizations with a tailored and compliant approach to background screening through personalization, innovation, and dedication.

This entry was posted in Guest Posts, Tips for Employer.