6 Recruitment Hacks for Early-Stage Startups | Hacker Noon

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Structuring a great team is one of the most challenging tasks you will need to get around. You may have an idea when it comes to the future of your company, but chasing it alone is not sufficient. Without qualified by your side, your dreams will never materialize.

But how can you find and hire the best talent? In this short blog post, we will break down the steps you need to follow in order to build the most effective recruitment strategy.

Hack #1 – Utilize the power of outsourcing

The workload you will need to handle when working for a startup is very heavy. In your attempts to streamline the process you may put less attention on the hiring process (and HR in general). This may not only cost you a lot of money, but also a lot of time chasing the wrong priorities.

Instead, consider outsourcing part of your work to agencies or freelancers.

Agencies can take care of all sort of tasks. These include product development, advertising, organic marketing, and customer service. If there are simple tasks that are time consuming while not necessarily the most important (e.g. graphic design for Social Media posts), consider working with a freelancer. You can easily find those on Upwork and Fiverr.

Hack #2 – Recruit slowly, replace swiftly

Early-stage companies usually don’t have an HR department. Instead, the hiring process for startups is a task of the founder(s). But, since small-sized companies are only as strong as their weakest chain, founders should take their time with the selection process.

To qualify a potential employee, consider hosting 3 interview rounds:

  1. An introduction meeting
  2. A deep dive into the candidate’s knowledge and experience
  3. A test assignment

Once you select the candidate that fits your company, start with a temporary work agreement (1 to 3 months). This period will help you get a better understanding of the candidate’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as their “fit” to the company culture.

Hack #3 – Instead of perks, offer a higher salary

A lot of startups emphasize the importance of company culture. This usually comes with a number of different (and often unusual) benefits. Free yoga classes? Pub crawls on Friday? Whatever the benefits of working at a startup, these activities build up the team spirit.

However, perks are not the best way to acquire top talent.

Instead, consider increasing their salary. This way, you give them the opportunity to enjoy the perks if they so choose to, you allow employees to enjoy the perks if they want to. Since startups pay less salary than corporate alternatives, giving a higher salary can be very beneficial to your recruitment strategy.

Hack #4: Offer recruitment referrals

By offering referral rewards, you incentivize people with broad networks to find the right talent for your startup. Once you find the perfect candidate, you offer a financial reward to the individual who made the referral.

When it comes to the amount of the reward, a common practice is to offer an amount equal to the new employee’s first-month salary.

The best way to promote your referral program is through Social Media platform that is more business-oriented (e.g. LinkedIn), and Slack groups.

Hack #5 – Inform the world

Unless you are Google, you will most likely have to let the world know that you are hiring. Here are a few quick ways to go about this:

  • Advertise on industry-relevant newsletters. Start by researching Substack and Twitter to discover what your audience is subscribing to.
  • Inform colleges and universities for internships and traineeships.
  • Contact talent acquisition companies that have experience in your niche.
  • Explore LinkedIn’s Recruiter Lite. It’s free to use for the first 30 days and costs a little more than $100 each successive month.
  • Write in relevant Slack groups (focused on developers, SEO experts, or other positions)

Hack #6 – Learn more about your candidates

Skills are very important. However, it is not the only factor that determines the success of a candidate. Personality is another major aspect of the equation. Without a fitting character, the candidate will not be able to adjust to the company culture.

Consider taking your candidates on an “extracurricular” activity to test their ability to solve problems. You can also ask them more personal questions during any of the interview rounds and observe their reactions.

Startup hiring process challenges

If you are struggling to find the right candidates, you may be falling victim to one (or more) of the following challenges:

1. No time, experience, or resources

Startups often struggle with a lack of money, expertise, and time. As such, finding the right candidate can become very difficult.

To solve this issue, create a roadmap and carefully track the hiring process. Create different tabs for promotion efforts, referral structures, and all interview stages. This way, you are able to keep a better overview of all small tasks.

2. No reputation

Your company may have a lot of potential, but not everyone knows this. Adding to that, only 25% of new businesses survive in the first 5 years. As such, it is important to recognize that employees have hundreds of opportunities to join a startup company, and reputation is an important element in the decision-making process.

To solve this problem, highlight the strong points of your company. Make sure you communicate openly and on a deeper level.

3. Neither secure nor stable

Most people need stability. This is why they will most likely choose a job that offers financial security. This is one of the biggest drawbacks of startups. they can’t compete with large brands when it comes to job security and stability. Why would an experienced candidate pick your company over an alternative with more stability and a better salary?

To solve this problem, consider highlighting the benefits of working at a startup. More specifically, emphasize flexible or remote working opportunities, company culture, or other benefits that are not often seen in more corporate environments.

Why recruit when you can outsource?

This is a question many founders don’t even want to talk about. While most founders are excited about the idea of building an in-house team, outsourcing may have many more benefits:

  • Most agencies allow you to stop the collaboration at any given time, with 1-month notice.
  • Most employers are hesitant to outsource since they believe that “in-house” teams perform better. If COVID-19 taught us anything, it is that working from home has benefits as well. One of them, according to studies, is an increase in work productivity.

Is a startup recruitment agency worth it?

When you create your startup, you will probably get a lot of emails from recruitment agencies. This may be a great way to find the first essential hires, like programmers, especially if they can be sourced from low-cost countries, like Ukraine or Romania.

However, when it comes to executive roles, trusting an agency may not be the best approach. Top candidates usually find job opportunities through word-of-mouth advertisement and don’t need to work with agencies.

A much easier and cost-effective way to discover talented candidates is to use LinkedIn Recruiter. Check this short demonstration to understand how it works:

Summing up

Too often, founders try to change the world on their own. But that is not always the best way to build a “unicorn” company. While sourcing talented employees can be challenging, it is one of the building blocks of your company’s success.

After reading this post you should know how to find top talent in your industry. Remember that each recruitment plan will differ depending on your company’s unique requirements. Therefore, make sure you continue researching the process to build a streamlined strategy.


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