Human Resources Blog - Spark Hire

Solutions to Overcoming These 4 Startup Hiring Challenges

4 Startup Hiring ChallengesHiring for a startup company can be a lot of fun and extremely rewarding.  There is an excitement that comes along with  trying to get a brand new business off and running. However, there are many challenges that come with hiring the best team for a startup.

1. Hiring for passion

SmartRecruiters makes note of Founder and President of Double the Donation, Adam Weinger’s quote regarding hiring people with passion.  He states that hiring people with passion should be one of the top goals for a startup.

When I was hiring recruiters for a startup company in the past, passion was something I strongly desired in my team members but it was also something that was somewhat challenging to interview for.  I made some mistakes and hired the wrong people, but among those mistakes, I also made some excellent hires that had great passion for our business.

The most successful recruiters on my team were the most passionate.  The recruiters who never gave up, no matter how difficult the candidate search and who did what it took to get the job done while maintaining a positive attitude were the ones who had the best numbers and most longevity with the company.

When you are looking for dedicated employees who care about their jobs, you want employees with passion.

2. Hiring for skill with a low budget

Typically, most startups do not have unlimited funds.  Cost is something each manager is advised to watch closely.  This is also the case when it comes to hiring.

Christine Bird, founder and CEO of Cream.HR, was quoted on SmartRecruiters, stating that hiring qualified individuals at lower wages is something that is always a challenge for startups.

In a startup, it’s important that you hire the right people in the right positions.  This means that you need to hire skilled workers.  However, keep in mind that they do not have to be the best of the best.  A lot of times, you will find skilled candidates who may not have five to10 years of expertise in the position you are hiring for, but they have excellent skills and the ability to learn and adjust to the changes and challenges within a startup.

Consider candidates with two to three years of experience, and even consider greener candidates when possible.  The salary requirements will not be as high and you may find that you will obtain the fresh, open-minded thinking that your startup needs from lesser experienced candidates.

When I hired recruiters in the past, I was able to hire entry-level candidates who had the passion and desire needed to learn the trade.  Since I had the recruiting skills needed to be successful at our company, I was able to train newbie recruiters as I was trained, so they could be just as successful.  I always found it easier to train rookie recruiters rather than retrain an experienced recruiter.

3. Hiring for culture

One of the most important things to consider when hiring for a startup is cultural fit.  SmartRecruiters quoted Founder and CMO of InternMatch, Nathan Parcells when he mentioned that many times startups must turn down skilled candidates due to lack of cultural fit.

Hiring someone who does not fit into your startup’s culture is like throwing a wrench into your business plan.  You will see more damage done to your business regardless of the amount of expertise the candidate brings to the table.

Several times, while interviewing recruiters, I made the mistake of looking through rose colored glasses and hiring experienced, veteran recruiters.  My thought was that they would require little training and had the experience to be successful quickly.  Each time, those rose colored glasses were quickly snatched off my face, revealing that it really took much more time to train the more experienced recruiters and that many times, their thoughts and beliefs on how business should be conducted were not in line with our company’s vision.

4. Taking the time to hire

Cofounder of Founders Space, Steve Hoffman makes a very good point in his quote on SmartRecruiters.  He brings to light the importance of not rushing the hiring process.  When a startup is hiring, it is key to make sure the right people are being hired rather than warm bodies being added to the organization quickly.

The hiring process at a startup can be a lengthy and time consuming process.  Not only do you have to continue completing your already large workload, but you also have to add in additional hours to search for and interview the right talent.  This means that you will have longer work days and weeks during the hiring and training process, until you have hired and trained your new employees.

When I was hiring for my startup company’s new recruiting team, I found myself working 14+ hour days, 7 days a week during that period.  It was tiring and trying, but very rewarding once I had developed an excellent recruiting team to help with the work load I had been balancing alone.  In order to hire this excellent team, I had to take the time to ensure that I was making the right decisions during my selection process.  I made several wrong decisions, which were very painful, sending me quickly back to square one.  These decisions were made much too carelessly and quickly, due to my impatience with the process and desperate need for help.  However, spending the time to hire the right people got me back on track and was much more rewarding in the end.

What are some of the challenges you have faced when hiring for your startup?  Please share your experiences and tips below. 

Image: monkeybusinessimages/

Julia Weeks

Julia is a skilled Recruiter with over 8 years of experience in sourcing, interviewing, and hiring within many industries globally. She works closely with hiring managers and job seekers to understand needs and desires, while offering guidance and ensuring the right fit. When not recruiting or writing, Julia enjoys spending time outside cycling, taking her dog for walks, or honing her sailing skills.

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