How Startups Can Tackle Their Toughest Challenge: Hiring Strong Talent

In today’s economy, the phrase start-up tends to evoke the concept of a glamorous lifestyle in which entrepreneurs become their own bosses and create multi-million dollar companies. While this may be the case for very few startups, the actual reality is one that involves long work days, struggling to find funding, and one of the biggest challenges: attracting strong talent.Screen Shot 2016-01-11 at 12.18.35 PM

It’s no surprise startups have difficulties when it comes to talent. Employees are rightfully trepidatious when it comes to working with a new company because the Wall Street Journal reports 25 percent of employees at new businesses are fired before their first year comes to an end.

The reason tech giants like Google and Facebook can find such great talent is because they can offer not only huge salaries and exciting perks but also more stability than employees will find at most start-ups. It can be tricky for employees to navigate the world of the unknown when it comes to a new employer, but that mindset is proving to be one of the biggest obstacles for these new companies.

The Challenges of Startup Hiring

Some of the challenges faced by startups when it comes to hiring include founders who don’t necessarily have experience in building strong teams. These CEOs may also have trouble looking outside their small network to find talent. Building a team is a talent in and of itself, and it’s not something that may be familiar to startup CEOs, particularly if they’re young. It takes a certain level of expertise to bring together people that represent a balance, with strengths and weaknesses that all play well off one another.

The issue of limited networks is another one that can be especially troubling for younger CEOs and startup founders. They may just not have the experience that typically leads to a robust network, so it can be a challenge to source necessary talent. The result can often be hiring of friends or acquaintances, but that can spell disaster for the company, particularly if these friends find it difficult to view their CEO as their boss.

Another challenge? CEOs and startup leaders have a massive amount of responsibility on their plates. They can start off doing it all on their own but quickly find they’re balancing too many things at one time, causing everything within the business to suffer. If and when a CEO discovers he or she needs help and needs to turn to outside talent to help the company run successfully, the hiring process can become rushed and it can lack focus. This means the wrong talent is hired over and over again, simply because the CEO waited until it was too far along to put the necessary time into hiring, or may have been overwhelmed with other tasks.

Hiring for the right fit is something that many large and established companies have a difficult time mastering, so it’s, of course, an enormous obstacle for startups in most instances.

5 Tips for Strong Startup Hiring

You may be aware of your shortcomings as they pertain to talent management within your startup, but how do you move past these issues and start building a great team?


  • Be Humble

The first aspect of the hiring process important for startup CEOs is to understand is they need help. There can be a feeling that you can do it all as the creator and leader of a startup, but that’s not a sustainable business model. Rather, before hiring it’s vital to take a real look at areas of weakness within your organization and uncover how your hiring solutions and talent management can address these weaknesses and make your company stronger in the long-term.


  • Consider Culture

With this tip, we don’t just mean the culture of your particular startup, but also the general culture of a startup. A lot of employees may have trouble in this environment, which tends to lack clearly defined job roles, is incredibly fast-paced and changes every day. If you’re looking at hiring someone with years of job experience at an established company, they likely have great things to offer but at the same time, they may be uncomfortable with the culture of a startup. If you want to avoid hiring someone who’s going to panic once they’re within the realm of a startup, consider a trial period and take notice of how the react to stressful situations or a particular level of frenzied uncertainty.


  • Hire Based on Problem-Solving

We recently discussed the trend of blind hiring, and this is somewhat in-line with that concept. As a startup, you need to get creative with your hiring, and one way to do that is to avoid the resume review, and instead ask applicants to take on a challenge or problem-solving task that replicates what they might see on a daily basis as an employee.


  • Go The Extra Mile to Build Your Employer Brand

If you want to find the best talent, you may not be able to lure them in with high salaries and fancy perks, particularly as you’re just getting off the ground, but you may be able to impress them with a strong employer brand. Today’s workforce, particularly Millennials, like the idea of working for a company with a mission, and one that they feel like they can get involved with and make a difference in. Focus your recruitment not just on sourcing talent, but offering them something they may not be able to get elsewhere, which is a distinctive employer brand.


  • Consider Remote Employees

One of the best ways to find incredible talent at a price that’s affordable for a startup budget is to consider remote working situations. When you’re willing to hire remote workers, you’re going to be able to tap into the best talent from around the world, and you’re expanding your options even if your budget isn’t huge. Startups often don’t have the budget to relocate employees, but with remote work arrangements, you can tap into global talent minus relocation costs.

Are you the CEO of a startup? If so, let us know what talent issues you’ve faced and how you’ve overcome them?

January 11, 2016   Updated :November 16, 2016   startups   

One response to “How Startups Can Tackle Their Toughest Challenge: Hiring Strong Talent”

  1. […] understand that startups face a lot of challenges and uncertainty, which can lead them to hire employees only to have them become jacks of all trades. Startups may only have the budget for a few […]

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