Hiring Is Hard At The Moment—Here’s How You Can Get It Right
You’ve no doubt noticed all the “help wanted” signs in your area. It seems like everyone everywhere is hiring, which is going to make the already difficult hiring process even more daunting for startups looking to grow.
Unlike larger companies with well-established talent pipelines and dedicated hiring managers, startup founders generally have to spearhead hiring themselves. The problem, of course, is that hiring responsibilities pile up in addition to the countless other things on your plate—which is why you’re hiring in the first place.
If there’s one thing to keep in mind during this stressful time, it’s the fact that needing help is a good sign. Growth is what you’re looking for, after all. The first few hires are a pivotal moment for your startup, and the expenses and time involved in onboarding make it critical to get those hires right the first time. To make sure your first (or next) team members are great additions to your company, follow these four steps:
1. Determine what roles need to be covered in your company.
Before you go scouring LinkedIn for the best and brightest, you’ll want to make a list of who you need to hire. Unless you’re one of the rare startups swimming in venture capital, you’ll have to be picky about the roles you onboard. In some cases, it might be better to pay third-party contractors in lieu of hiring a full-time employee. For instance, you can consider outsourcing work that’s not necessarily a key differentiator, such as accounting, to another company. This lets you focus on the things that need your personal touch.
If you need a full-time employee, take your time finding the right person. The team at recruiting software company Lever believes that hires set the stage for a company’s future. “In any organization, who you hire plays a key role,” one blog says. “This rings most true in the case of startup businesses, especially in the early stages. Startups face the additional challenge of the initial hires becoming the DNA and building blocks for the culture and success of those businesses.”
2. Update your job descriptions.
Isaiah Hankel, founder and CEO of Cheeky Scientist, knows that companies tend to use the same job descriptions on every platform. “If that’s the case, it should come as no surprise that you’re attracting similar applicants over and over,” he says. “Remember that different cultures and geographic locations have their own slang and buzzwords. By using diverse keywords, language, and descriptions, you should attract candidates representing more diverse backgrounds.”
Why is it important to attract a diverse array of applicants? If you and your startup value innovation and higher profits, research shows that diversity is much more than a box to check. Tone is also important in job descriptions: Research shows that an overly casual one is viewed negatively four times as often as a formal description, and job seekers are two to four times less likely to apply.
3. Create an onboarding plan to set expectations for the role.
“When you bring on new team members, you want to ensure you have a defined strategy for your business,” says Todd Sumney, chief industry officer for HomeSmart International. “This helps make things easier when they are trying to figure out what to do and how to work under you. This is very important when you’re working with employees either virtually or out in the field. Remember to document these processes.”
Effective onboarding helps new hires feel like valued members of the team right away, reducing the amount of time it takes them to contribute and making it less likely that they’ll decide to leave. Considering many positions experience up to 50% turnover rates in the first 18 months, retention is key. Plus, you can refer back to clear onboarding processes each time a role needs to be filled.
4. Hire for values rather than cultural fit.
Sachin Gupta, co-founder and CEO of HackerEarth, believes that hiring based on values is a better approach. “Organizations used to hire archetypes that looked and felt the same, risking inclusivity in the process,” Gupta says. “Today, culture fit is more about aligning values at every stage of the interview process. These values must be inclusive at their heart, but once you know that a candidate has a similar world view, a hunger for excellence, and customer-centricity, for example, then you simply must prioritize skills.”
Particularly at a startup, where culture might not be as clearly defined as it is in a large corporation, it’s important to look for hires who share your values. Whether you’re looking to deliver compassionate service, innovative new products, or you simply value honesty and reliability, find a hire who shares your values and has the right skills.
A note of caution: Shared values shouldn’t be confused with shared backgrounds. Even though our intuition often encourages us to hire people who have similar life experiences, this practice can create homogenous companies at best and discriminatory ones at worst.
If you’re looking to grow a startup, you’re going to need help eventually. When that day comes, take a deep breath and pour your energy into the hiring process. By following the four steps above, you’ll procure a team of inspired employees ready to help you start the next chapter of your company’s history.