Hiring your first employee is exciting ... and maybe a bit nerve-wracking too. After all, it's one of the first times that you're exposing your business and its prospects to someone else and hearing whether they believe in your vision and want to be a part of it. Convince them, and they'll start spreading the word and inspiring others to come on board too.
And, as you move on to successfully on-board employee number two, three, and onwards, you know that exciting times are ahead. Your business is really starting to take off.
From the very first interview to all those that follow in time and that lead to someone new joining you, every member of the team is important and will help shape the business that you become. Hiring the right person can propel you faster forwards; hiring the wrong person could take you more than a few steps back.
Getting the right team can actually boost your business significantly, so consider the time spent in talent search as time well-invested in the future of your company, even if drafting job descriptions and adverts and attending all those meetings can sometimes be an unwelcome distraction.
Many founders of first-time startups are also first-timers when it comes to recruitment. Even those that have been in business a while may have had nothing to do with their former employers' HR processes. If this is you, how do you go about deciding who's a good catch and who really ought to be avoided?
Below are a few simple tips to get you hiring like a seasoned pro.
Don’t underestimate the power of the fan
If your business has been going for a little while or if you have a personal brand and following, then you're in a strong position to hire people that are real believers. It's always easier to integrate a person that knows your business, and it's even easier when that person is a fan.
Your social networks are an immensely powerful resource. Use both your business and personal accounts to promote the job and benefits of working with you. You may just find a person that believes in your business just as much as you do!
If you already have a strong team, learn how to convert them into fans in this great guide by Inc.
Spread your risk
As a startup, especially if your plan is to operate on a lean model, you can’t afford to lose money or time. Training staff, bringing them up to speed, and then embedding them into your culture, ethos, and mindset all take time. Ending up with the wrong person may mean you have to rinse and repeat the exercise several times before you find the right employee for the job.
One way to spread your risk, used often by successful lean startups, is to work exclusively with freelancers and fixed-term hires. Both allow you the flexibility of a quick shift if a hire isn’t working out, without the necessary tediousness of the paperwork or the hassle of firing a full-time employee. This method also allows you to try several individuals 'on the job' before you make your final offer.
Use the right lure
In today’s startup world, a basic package isn’t always what skilled staff are after. The quality of life within their work environment plays a big part in deciding where these unicorns decide to work. Scanning hundreds of generic job descriptions and simply copying them to make up your job advert will only tempt generic applicants.
Make your job description awesome, and you may just attract the right person. Focus on all the positives of working with your company, the culture, the vision, the mission. All these play a big part in tempting top talent who are less interested in money and more interested in the actual goals of your business. As RecruiterBox advises, focus on where you are going, not where you have been.
Consider running your adverts past a friendly marketing expert, see what they say – are you optimising your impact and creating a great lure?
So, how can you hire your standards?
There are many tools and techniques a startup can use to build up a workforce; the real talent is to build a strong team in order to be successful.
What we've learned from experience is that the best hires come when you properly take the time to focus on your stand-out candidates, when you listen to your gut instincts, when you recruit as a team, when you take proper references, and when you look as much (if not more!) at a candidate's attitude and aptitude as you rely on evidence of them having done the exact job before. Sometimes, the best hires you make have never done exactly what you need before.
When we hire, we look for someone who makes us feel like we already do about each other: inspired, trusted to do the job well, and comforted that we've got someone else who will give it their all and make what we do even better.
We hope these tips allow you to think out of the box when planning on recruiting your startup family. Whoever you hire will be jointly responsible for the future of your business, so hiring the right people will go a long way to making sure that your startup is a success.