Hiring employees invariably involves a certain formality even if the business is very small. At the least, mandatory forms must filled. The bigger the business the more complex it is likely to be. The hiring process tend to reflect this.

The major elements in hiring process

  1. The definition of the job itself, often a formal job description rendered on paper, an important aspect of which is determination of the compensation to be paid.
  2. A process of recruitment
  3. Prospective employee interviews
  4. The job offer and related negotiations
  5. Registration of the employee and related introductions and orientations
  6. Some kind of job training which may be minimal or may involve formal training programs.

The challenges of growing a startup Team

  • Every hire can make or break the team

As your startup grows beyond the founding team, every new addition to your team will fundamentally change your company’s DNA. New hires impact everything: product development; company culture; team morale; work quantity and quality; team capabilities… The list goes on and on.

In a small team, and in the fast-paced, high-stakes startup environment, the impact of any mismatch in values, processes or culture will be magnified. Hiring a good-fit team member can increase your capacity and skill set, as well as improving team morale. However, if your new employee is a bad fit for your team’s culture, they will have a negative impact on the work environment, and can actually lead to a decrease in productivity levels, despite an increase in team numbers.

  • You are unknown

When nobody knows who you are, attracting top talent is extremely difficult. Unless you or one of your co-founders has a noteworthy background, you and your company are unknown – particularly if you’re bootstrapping or you’re yet to raise your first round of funding.

This means you’ll need to work especially hard to attract good-fit prospects, and you’ll have to sell your company, your vision and your existing team to them. Too many companies forget that hiring is a two-sided process – not only does the job applicant need to impress you, but you also need to impress them.

  • You are perceived as a high-risk opportunity

It’s important to realise that joining a startup won’t be the right choice for everyone: for some, the opportunity will be exciting and energising, but for other people it will be overly stressful and risky.

Working at a startup is very different to working at an established company, and many skilled prospects will be reluctant to leave the perceived security of a job at an established company to join a startup with no funding, and no track record of success.

How to hire employees

  • Build an attractive company

Your first few employees are likely to come from your founders’ extended network, and in this case the hiring process is likely to be much more flexible than with subsequent hires. In these early days, before you worry about getting job descriptions spot-on, or sharing your job adverts in the right place, you need to focus on building a company that people want to work for.

That doesn’t mean you need to invest in expensive employee perks or slick offices (though by the time you’re hiring your first employees, it will look better if you’re not working out of your garage or spare bedroom). Instead, it means sorting out your identity as an employer: nailing down your company’s cultural values and making the most of your social presence.

  • Reaching out candidates

As a startup founder, you should always be recruiting. Even if you don’t have the workload or resources to actually grow your team right now, it’s essential that you are nurturing relationships and building connections for when a specific hiring need arises.

Building an attractive company will help convince potential employees that they want to join your startup, and will attract inbound leads who are interested in your product, team and company culture. However, when it comes to hiring the best people, you can’t wait for them to find you: you need to look for them, too.

  • Attracting the best-fit employees

When it comes to startup hiring, quality beats quantity, every single time. You don’t want to attract anyone and everyone, and spend hours sifting through countless resumes and applications. Therefore, it’s essential that you have a clear idea of what a good-fit employee will look like, before you begin networking in earnest.

In the next section of this post, we’re covering what you should look for in prospective hires, and how to evaluate skills and culture fit.

What to look for in prospective employees

  • Have a proactive, can-do attitude

Check the applicant’s track record of accomplishing new things. In deciding to implement a new strategy, how did they go about assessing risk? Inquire about initiatives that the applicant has undertaken and that have failed. How did the applicant handle failure, and what did they learn from it?

People who have never failed have accomplished what they are capable of ,nor have they built the internal fortitude to move on after inevitable failures.

  • Differentiate themselves from their peers

What has a job applicant accomplished in previous positions that differentiates them from other job applicants. Have they taken the initiative to do things that that went beyond their job description? How have they moved the business of their previous employer forward? Are they a team player, and they help others within the organization achieve their objectives?

  • Will help you become the preferred provider to your market

To become the preferred provider of products or services in your geographic market, that is, the provider everyone wants to do business with.

To achieve preferred provider status, employees need to be focused on providing a great customer experience.

  • Have common sense and good critical judgement

We are all aware of employees that have made bad decisions while dealing with customers. This brings harm to the company’s reputation. Hiring people with common sense and good critical judgement will minimize the likelihood of this occurring.

  • Possess the skills to do the job or can rapidly develop them

It doesn’t help your organization or the job candidate if there is a significant mismatch in know-how or credibility to do the job. If you ant to place a high potential individual into a stretch position, ensure they have the needed resources and advisors available to help them be successful.

  • Are committed to continuous improvement

Change and continuous improvement is good for a business competition. Hire people who are committed to continuous improvement. You certainly don’t want to hire continuity people. They will stifle your business.

By Catherine Mungai

An Outgoing girl based in Nairobi, Kenya who loves life, writing and reading.

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