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The size of a company doesn't matter: sourcing, recruiting, and hiring is hard. However, it’s definitely harder for startup companies to recruit and hire top talent—not to mention get that talent to stick around.
This brings me to an important point: startup turnover could easily be because CEOs and founders aren’t bringing in startup-ready talent. This isn’t necessarily anyone’s fault; it’s just that these individuals likely don’t have experience recruiting and hiring. Just because someone has experience working with others and functioning within a team doesn't mean he or she knows how to build one—and that's OK.
If you’re a budding startup and not aggressively searching for the best talent, you’re going to keep turning up just okay talent. But fear not. We’ve put together a list of ways to tackle startup recruitment head-on.
1. Use a contact management software
Before you start sourcing talent, decide on a contact management software. You can begin storing contacts in a system as basic as an Excel spreadsheet, but don’t rule out free CRM software. The following 2 are my favorite, cost-effective (free!) options for startups:
has a user-friendly interface so you won’t have to spend time learning a crazy new system. You can even use it as a tool for project and task management. Prices range from $0-$59/month per user.
is more advanced and customized than Insightly, but it does have the functionality you need. Prices for Zoho range from $0-$25/month per user.
2. Take advantage of social media
85% of jobs are filled via networking
. So where do you start? LinkedIn! It literally stands as a business and employment platform for networking.
As such, don’t be afraid to send a cold InMail (or even an email) as long as you sound like a human. Twitter, Facebook, and even Instagram can be good places to begin recruiting for your startup, especially for millennial or early Gen-Z talent. And don’t discredit those less-than-perfect fits; they might know people who are the perfect fit. Connect/network with them so you have access to more connections.
3. Hire deliberately If you’re an early stage startup, the most attractive candidates are the ones who are available right now and have at least some skills you’re looking for.
As tempting as that may be, this isn’t the time to just fill a role because you need more manpower. This is a time where the first fifteen to twenty people you hire are, ideally, going to be the ones that help build the future of your company.
4. Prioritize behavioral interviews over competency interviews
Obviously, skills are important. But, you're not only looking for candidates who are going to help grow your startup/generate revenue. The people you bring on board are going to build the culture and feel of your company. To be frank, this means you have to actually like being around them. I know that’s subjective, but it’s the truth.
Startups come with trying times; it’s just the name of the game. If you can’t work with someone who shares the same drive and willingness to overcome hurdles, you risk losing up to $50K in low-quality hires. So instead, focus on:
• Emotional intelligence
• Ability to work well in a team
• Willingness to learn new things and adopt new ways of thinking
5. Keep an eye out for startup experience Startups don’t always have the most structure, established processes, and just overall organization. It takes a certain type person to hop into a startup and roll with the punches.
These days a lot of startups tend to be more culturally lax, which can be a turn-off for individuals who are prone to more corporate spaces. But that’s not to say they should be ruled out—just something to keep in mind during your search.
6. Be honest Be honest with candidates. Plain and simple.
It’s OK to admit your startup is growing and therefore doesn’t have a ton of structure or processes. After all, you’re looking for help to move the company along and fill those holes. During an interview, share your goals, the type of culture you have/are trying to build, current struggles, and how you want help overcoming them.
Your honesty is going to drastically decrease turnover rates. If you scare some candidates away, they weren’t meant to be in the first place.
7. Explore staffing and recruiting firms
You can always try a recruitment agency to help with your search. Contingent and retained firms can get pretty pricey, but flat fee and hourly recruiting agencies
do exist. Those will be your more affordable options, especially if you’re only trying to fill one or two positions. If you have experience recruiting for a startup, offer up some tips! What has worked best for you in the past, and how have you retained talent?