Starting a new enterprise can be both exciting and draining – emotionally and physically. You have to be everything and at everywhere. You play all roles. Even those you are not good at. It’s your dream, and you did not expect another person to bring it to life but you. The thing is, you can’t be multi-tasking and still function effectively with the services your outfit sets to offer. You just have to employ extra hands to take some burdens off your shoulder. And getting the right people to pass and manage the torch of your corporate culture is important. That is why your first hire is just as important as you’re getting your first client.
Convincing the right and qualified candidates can be a bit tricky for early startups too, bearing in mind that the suitably qualified personnel would more readily want to identify with a known or established industry brand. It makes one assume that those who apply to startups are not really competitive enough, knowing they would be earning less than their counterparts. However, for a leader of a startup, there are still a number of ways to corner capable hands to your startup.
Know why you are hiring
As the leader of a startup, you need new hires in virtually all positions, but you can’t just go about letting huge wage bills weigh your new enterprise down. You have to prioritize the positions. You’ll need your first hires to multi-task as much as you probably are doing at the moment. It should be part of the negotiations. The right candidate should be able to see the company as a startup and not an established company. Hiring specific professionals would largely depend on where your startup is located on the growth curve. The leader should be able to detect why and the right moment to ‘risk’ hiring.
Delegate the process
If you don’t have the luxury of time to start multi-tasking, just like most startups, you should delegate the first stage of the hiring process to some qualified hands to help you prune down the workload of entries that may come your way. Consult friends who have hired for specific roles (marketing, sales, engineering or administrative) to learn where to source the best candidates, how to effectively review resumes, better questions to ask and ways to determine the final selections. And if an ad-hoc team is on ground already, have them meet and interview potential hires to ensure that everyone feels comfortable and agrees on the best fit. You don’t want to neglect the very reason why you are hiring to something others can do for you, while you devote more time to the core services your enterprise sets out to do.
The assumption is that the list has been pruned down with the help of others, now you are faced with the shortlisted candidates. This part can’t be delegated they are your prospective team members. Get to know them, have them relate with you. Listen to them, away from the things put down in their résumés. Know if they have transferable skills for the position you are hiring for. Be careful to observe things important to them and respond to them. If you miss it, you start with the wrong foot. Hiring the wrong person for your team can be worse than not having anyone at all.
Relate with the candidates
Interact with the candidates. Sell the brand, vision and mission to them; see how much they buy it. For small teams, every new employee has a profound effect on team culture and norms. They will market your brand beyond your imaginations, even if not successful in the interview process. Let them demonstrate their potentials and not credentials. Test their abilities.
Table realistic remunerations
As a startup, never make the mistake of being a crowd pleaser. In a bid to retain a candidate, never make promises you can’t fulfill, especially when it concerns remunerations and other work conditions. Make sure you convey a holistic offer, meaning that you reinforce the cultural aspects as well as the monetary ones. Things like flexible work schedules, a social culture (frequent events for staff to connect as people, not just as colleagues), or even a shorter commute may be very attractive to some people. Be clear about what you can offer, and let the candidates decide.
Don’t assume, retrain
Happy that the preferred candidate(s) had been selected? You don’t just dust your shoulder and expect the new member of the team to carry on without training or supervisions. In real fact, they need real hands-on experience on the peculiarities of your outfit. Trim them to your shape and taste. Training may not be as elaborate as that of established firms. A little supervision, a memo on the notice board or a little guide would do.
Get your legal documents handy
Seal up the deal in black and white! Get the details of the contract on paper. It is the evidence of acceptance of your offer. And when you’re laser-focused on revenue and market development, the last thing you need is a legal headache. Knowing that everyone is officially taken care of means that you can focus on what matters most.
Getting focused on the work at hand for the leader of a startup is a very difficult thing. Many aspects of the buildup might actually be a distraction to the real services offered by the firm. Why not delegate the process of hiring, so the process doesn’t weigh in on the quality of services offered? It is proper also to know how to balance the priorities