When a Startup Grows: How to Recruit New Team Members

By Josh McAllister - Nov. 3, 2017
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Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by freelance technology journalist Josh McAllister. His opinions are his own.

A startup is a company that’s offering a new product or service, or a new way to provide existing products or services. They’re usually small businesses funded by the founder(s), loans, or a small group of investors. Startups are intent on developing their ideas into market-ready business models.

Once the startup grows to the point where it’s making sustainable profits, it’s considered an established business.

As your own startup expands, it attracts more clients and creates the need for a larger workforce. The first new hires are usually leaders needed to fulfil key business roles. It’s important that the core staff, and all later employees, fit well with your business mission and culture.

Management must identify what skills are required to meet current needs and can add value as the business grows. As hiring additional workers takes place, each candidate must be carefully considered for their capacity to fulfill the duties required of them, how their career plans align with business growth, and whether they have the character and attitudes that fit well with co-workers and the company brand. Every new employee must be considered a team member.

Finding the best talent can be difficult as other companies compete to fill their own staffing needs. It helps to have a strategy for recruitment as well as presenting your company as a great employer. Here are some tips to improve your hiring processes.

Define the current state of your startup

When it comes time to expanding your team, evaluate your company in terms of how it has grown. Also make projections of where it seems to be headed versus how it aligns with your original goals. The early stages of your company is the best time to make changes and adapt roles to ensure you’re still on the right track.

Take the time to assess what your short and long-term goals are. You may be looking to develop more effective marketing strategies, integrate new technologies, or develop supply chains. Evaluate how much you, the owner of a small business, know about infomation technology management in a digital economy. Ask yourself if you have the talent for pressing initiatives or if you will need to hire additional talent.

As each new hire adjusts to their specific roles and the company culture, it’s important to analyze what value they’re providing and how smoothly they work with the team. Even highly skilled individuals may be doing more harm than good if they’re disrupting team morale or side-stepping established procedures. When you’re able to get a clear picture of what’s happening in the workflow, and the benefit each person adds, you’ll be able to coordinate hiring practices that strengthen the organization.

Whether you run a B2B or B2C operation, you’ll want to track how many new clients your sales and marketing leaders bring and the satisfaction provided by your company’s product or service. You should encourage establishing performance metrics for productivity and the quality of service being performed. Complaints, bottlenecks, break-downs, flat-lining sales, and similar issues could signify a need for restructuring, or expanding the responsible teams, such as maintenance or quality control.

Identify the skillsets that you’re missing

Although your staffing needs can vary widely depending on what your product is or what kind of service you provide, consider what talent is missing from the picture. You may need to create new key roles if they provide better technical knowledge, smoother workflows, or more cost-savings. Additional value and opportunity, for instance, could come from having a full-time professional such as an engineer or computer programmer to tackle new projects.

Let the world know you provide opportunity

After deciding what type of talent you need to improve your organization, it’s time to approach the recruitment process. This usually beings with job postings put out in local newspapers or among the internet job sites. But it’s important that your postings are clear on what qualifications or experience you’re looking for, and what the job description and responsibilities will entail.

You could also give some direct information on what your expectations and company culture are to produce more applicants that are a better fit. Provide as much information as you can, but be sure the job listings are geared toward the particular type of candidate you’re looking for. How it’s worded and where you post it can make a big difference in terms of the quantity and quality of responses.

For instance, if you’re looking for a full-time accountant, you might look for professional organizations, job sites, or agencies that cater to accountants. You’ll probably need to do some research or ask questions about what kind of study and background a good accountant should have. Don’t overlook job-specific blogs, social media, and forums as ways to both connect with the right kind of candidate and learn more about their expectations.

Before you post a job opening, combine information from these sources to get a good understanding of the talent you’re looking for and how to connect with them personally. Social media, for instance, is a good way to find and get feedback from the very candidates you’re looking for. By shaping and presenting a great employment proposition, they’ll share the knowledge with friends who are qualified, or may be willing to join your team themselves.

Implement a thorough screening process

Potential new employees should be subjected to a detailed screening process. This is important to narrow down the field to the most promising applicants so that you aren’t wasting valuable time. Screening should be done in every phase of the process.

You can email strong candidates to ask specific questions about their claims, education, and previous employers. Check their social media accounts to get an idea of who they are as individuals and identify traits you find desirable or negative. You should test their skills or knowledge with online assessments, and in the final interview stages, have the candidate meet with one or more senior team members as well as managers to get their opinions.

Visual clues are just as important as responses. For remote employees, you could do interviews via video chat programs like Skype. It’s also a good way to introduce remote hires to fellow team members.

Make employment conditional

Recruiting new hires to your company can become expensive, especially if you’re paying for job advertisements or interviewing multiple people. There may also be a period of low-productivity where new employees need training before they’re up to speed. You can mitigate your risks by making a trial period part of the employment offer. Have the new candidate sign a form indicating that they understand and agree to the terms of provisional employment.

At the end of the trial period, you can sit down with managers and team members to determine whether the new employee is an asset to the team and a good personality fit to team dynamics. A new candidate’s trainers and supervisors should make note of how well they receive and follow instructions, their skill level, work ethic, attention to detail, and how they deal with problem solving or conflicting opinions.

If by the end of the trial period the new employee isn’t demonstrating the right abilities or getting along with the rest of the team, you can let them go.

In conclusion, every successful startup will come to a point where hiring additional help is necessary. It’s crucial to understand where your company is in terms of growth and what your staffing needs are. Every candidate should be not only qualified for their role, but a good fit for team members and the company. Try to customize your job listings to the expectations and channels that this type of employee will relate to. The talent you choose to focus on should be thoroughly vetted, and may even be offered conditional employment while you evaluate their performance.

If you’re having difficulty finding the right talent or establishing your own hiring procedures, you can always seek out recruitment professionals for help and advice.

Josh McAllister is a freelance tech writer and business consultant based in New York. In his free time, he enjoys all things geeky and gadgetry, the outdoors, and spending time with his family. You can reach him on Twitter @josh8mcallister.


Josh McAllister

Josh McAllister is a freelance tech writer and business consultant based in New York. In his free time, he enjoys all things geeky and gadgetry, the outdoors, and spending time with his family. You can reach him on Twitter @josh8mcallister.

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