Startups are in a unique situation when hiring employees. Usually cash flow is tight or the company is being bootstrapped, so hiring mistakes are more costly than in a company with more financial stability. In addition, early-stage new hires are a large percentage of the total number of employees and have the potential for greater impact, both good and bad.
Here are seven simple tips to help you hire the right staff for your startup.
You’ll still need to secure the legally required permissions to do background checks on potential employees, but be sure to include looking into online reputation.
People tend to more freely discuss topics in their social media communication, thinking it’s between “friends.” Consequently, you’ll get a clearer picture of a candidate’s real attitudes and work ethic, for example, from checking the status of their Internet reputation.
2. Use Internships
Especially in technical fields, paid internships are a part of the career path. A paid internship of a set timeframe, say a summer, can give you a better picture of how a student with great grades fits into the workplace. Many aspects of the workplace cannot be evaluated until someone is actually in the trenches, so to speak, and has to perform.
3. University Relationships
Develop strong relationships with thought leaders in your industry, especially those at universities and colleges in your area. Students will be looking for jobs at graduation, and personal contact is a great way to get a good idea about the suitability of a candidate. Especially with students with advanced degrees who have had to complete dissertations, faculty will have had extensive experience working with the students in a setting quite similar to the work environment.
4. Angel and Entrepreneurs Networks
Often a highly motivated individual with entrepreneurial attitude can be found through angel investors or other entrepreneur networks that foster innovation. Their own idea may not have worked out or was proven not to be feasible. But they are excited to be part of a team creating new businesses. This group, of course, carries the risk of leaving when a better idea crosses their path!
Testing services can highlight good indicators of non-tangible employee skills such as interpersonal communication styles. In addition, at many companies, an interview for a job that requires good writing skills should include a writing test. Simply asking the candidate to read a company product brochure and create a short synopsis can also give you a clear picture of analytical thinking ability.
6. Start with Contract Work
Many great employees start as independent contractors working on clearly defined projects. This gives both parties a chance to try out the relationship without a full commitment. The work should likely be project-based such as completing a market research study or designing a specific prototype.
7. Hacker Clubs, Maker Spaces, FabLabs
Whether for a technology job or not, people who hang out in hacker clubs, maker spaces, and FabLabs tend to be doers. They like to try new things and are usually open to innovation processes, including learning from failures. Visit these hotbeds of creativity to get the word out about your job openings. A maker or hacker’s can-do attitude is a plus for any startup!
Startups that carry innovative methods into their job hiring process are bound to see the kind of success they need to become a “real” company.
Sarah Boisvert is an author who writes on a variety of business and innovation topics. She also covers social media and technology, including 3D printing.
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