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Recruiting challenges for startups

Startup businesses are popping like corn kernels at the bottom of a hot pan. Despite the numerous fears of the pandemic affecting the startup landscape, new businesses are still attracting generous investors: from July to September 2020, $2.2 billion was invested into seed deals. However, money is not the only thing you need to start a business. What’s the value of a startup without a qualified and motivated workforce? Much of the upside of a startup depends on finding the right people, which makes the startup recruiting process extremely important for the business.

As Gil Belford from Hole19 said, «Being able to find, hire, and maintain the right kind of talent for your company will make or break it.»

In this article, we offer you a look at the world of recruitment for startups, associated hiring problems, and how to eliminate them effectively.

Startup hiring: problems and solutions

First, let’s look at the cold hard truth: You’re creating a new business, and there are many start up challenges you may find on your way. The sooner you stop ignoring them and begin to work on solutions, the sooner you’ll develop practices that work; this applies to challenges, solutions, and practices in hiring.

To have a better understanding of the problems, review the issues in our recruitment challenge templates.

Time is scarce

As a recruiter, you work in a fast-paced environment. You have to make decisions quickly and deliver results fast. All while being overloaded with hundreds of urgent tasks. It’s a constant struggle to balance your time between establishing a productive work environment for existing employees and going through the full hiring cycle. But it’s also important to invest your time and effort in developing well-thought-out hiring strategies. AI recruitment can help reduce the pressure and make sense of what you need to do and why.

Money is scarce, too

Hiring is expensive. New employees means new salaries, recruiting costs, and employee maintenance costs. You can address the first challenge by working with freelancers and part-time employees, and the second one with automated HR tools.

You’re a new kid on the block

Only a couple of years (or even months) ago, your company didn’t exist. So there are very few (if any) people outside your organization that know anything about you. And this is one of the examples of challenges when it comes to recruitment. The company’s name is not going to motivate job seekers to hit the Apply button when checking your job ad. You need to make an extra effort to catch the applicant’s eye with a description of your business. Invest in building a brand and earn credibility in the industry.

Big players have more to offer

Industry giants that have been around for years have built an impressive body of benefits and exercise them at every suitable opportunity. And the giants’ main objectives are to outcompete you. So how do you stick up for yourself? The great non-financial advantage that startups offer applicants is the opportunity to have an outsized impact on the organization. Team members in such organizations aren’t just completing tasks; they are building a product and an organization. Startups give employees a sense of contribution and self-accomplishment. Conversely, the complicated hierarchy of large organizations makes many great specialists quit and look for smaller teams.

Even though there’s an abundance of hiring issues that startups face, don’t be discouraged. Even in such an unpredictable and underinvested environment, you can still create a great team of professionals that drive your startup forward. These practices are aimed at helping you to do just that:

Establish a hiring process

Hiring is not a single task. It’s a process. And that is why it’s important to stay on the lookout, as you never know when the next great employee may show up on your radar. Keep your eyes wide open and know where to hang out to find people for your team. Invest in networking, staying present on social media, and encouraging your current employees to refer promising candidates, and your efforts will be fruitful before you know it.

Shape your hiring strategy

The main assets of a startup are the people. So make sure you develop them accordingly. When you look for employees, focus on soft skills as well as personality traits. If the person is a great team player and your values match, make sure to bring them into your company. The skills can be trained later. The most important thing is not their immediate contribution, but their potential.

Don’t shoulder it all

A startup is a group project. If you have the skills or knowledge that will help the team, you take on the tasks even if it’s not part of your direct responsibility. It also should be true when it comes to start up companies hiring personnel. Each professional has their network of specialists, and some of them may become valuable members of your company. What you can do as an HR manager is nurture the company’s culture, so your employees are proud of their workplace and eager to bring their friends there, too.

The rules of HR brand building

The challenging thing about building a startup is that you start from a blank page. But the good thing is that you start from a blank page. Yes, no one knows your company name, and specialists may be skeptical about your organization; but you have unrestricted freedom to create a brand that resonates with you, your team members, and the market.

These simple strategies will help you build a brand that is compelling and consistent:

Know your values

Invest some time and effort to identify the purpose of your business. It’s one thing to have a general idea of what is important to you, but it’s a whole different matter when you have written your values down, explained why they are important, and what you do to deliver on them. Publish these values on your corporate website and inform every single employee about them. Some companies take this step very seriously and even write their values on their office walls to instill a sense of purpose and mission.

Stay visible

A human resources specialist’s position differs depending on the company, to the point that some employees don’t even understand what HR does. Make sure that’s not true in your case: continually share your work product and recruiting and culture impact with management and team members. And ensure that it is visible to people outside your organization as well. Showcase the team, the corporate initiatives, and achievements on your website, corporate blog, and social media.

Invest in employees

Your workers don’t come to work from 9 to 5 to just support the company. They want to grow, develop, and contribute. That’s why it’s crucial to have programs that allow them to expand their skill sets by accessing conferences and paid training. Also, everyone benefits from mentorship. Mentorship allows mentors to develop another professional and even personal side, and mentees receive a sense of direction and extra motivation.

Working with short of time hiring

Employment processes may get crazy at times. There’s no time to lose, especially when you need new employees, and you need them now. These approaches help recruiters keep their sanity:

  • Describe expectations. Take time to write down the responsibilities for every role. It will uncover which skills are needed for which tasks. Also, having clear requirements will significantly narrow the pool of potential applications.
  • Come up with a universal questionnaire. By assessing the same answers from different applicants, you will compare applicants and better understand who has got what it takes to grow the business. You’ll unearth their priorities, objectives, and values. Once you’ve analyzed the answers, proceed with candidates whose outlook coincides with yours.
    Tom Rogers, co-founder and Chief Technical Officer at Farewill, a London-based legal tech startup, said, «I’ve not got one question (we ask a lot and write the question set specifically for the candidate and role), but I have one phrasing I use all the time: Can you tell me about a time when you’ve…»
  • Give assignments. Even though such a hiring process may take a bit more time, in the long run, you reduce the turnover. When you hire an employee, you know exactly what they are good at and what they need to work on. Thus, you will avoid major disappointments.
  • Think fast. Some companies delay decisions and make the hiring process last for months. Your startup cannot afford that. It is important to analyze all the information fast, gather feedback from all involved parties, and decide whether to offer the position or move on to another candidate.

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