Recruiting is frequently a particular challenge for startups. Often it is an after-thought, as in the early days of the company, the focus is almost entirely on getting the product or service to market, launching the brand and raising capital.
By Jamie Hoobanoff, via Forbes.com
During this period the founders generally try to do everything themselves, from product development to sales and marketing. When building a company, which includes raising money, choosing the right investors, developing disruptive and innovative products/solutions, and growing and scaling a team, it makes sense that many struggle with the process of hiring the right people.
One study of Canadian labor trends found that 40% of small- to medium-sized businesses struggle to find top talent. It's clear this is a challenge for companies in their infancy stages. That struggle can actually be a startup's greatest recruitment asset. Today’s leaders and up-and-coming talent want to work for great leaders and founders. This is the DNA of the company’s culture. Having direct access to the founder’s vision and leadership can be a significant selling feature.
This is because the other major challenge of recruiting for new ventures is that while they need forward-thinking, leadership-focused talent to grow their business, they must compete for that coveted talent with established brands.
Startups can't often match the salaries, benefits or name recognition of more established organizations. How could an emerging company compete with Google, Apple, Facebook or Microsoft? Actually, it's not just newly launched companies that struggle with this. A vast majority of business-to-business (B2B) brands are unknown to the general public. Therefore, top talent often doesn’t know about or will not seek out their opportunities. However, there are several important areas where startups specifically can contend with the industry leaders to win the best candidates in the war for talent.
Tell Your Story
Startup founders often find it difficult to delegate to someone less invested in their company than they themselves are. The solution to this dilemma is to make your staff as invested as you are.
With the U.S. unemployment rate below 4%, it's clear that the competition to attract top talent is fierce. Talk to potential hires in the language you would use to attract investors — because that is what you are asking of the talent that joins your team. They will be investing their time, effort, passion and ingenuity to building your company. Then sell them on the ROI of that investment. Joining a company in the early days and helping to build something from the ground up is an opportunity many talented, ambitious people crave.
Target Candidates With A Growth Mindset
Make candidates aware of the exponential opportunity for growth. Joining an organization with fewer employees means a greater opportunity to do more and to have a bigger impact. Company wins become personal successes for the whole team. Startups don't need functionaries; they need fierce contributors and leaders. True leadership talent doesn't want to be a cog in the wheel of a large organization.
Build Your Employer Brand Early
Have a defined mission. Let sought-after candidates know your company's potential. Are you impacting the industry, disrupting the status quo or making people's lives better? Tell candidates what your company stands for and how they individually can have a direct impact on the success of that mission. Furthermore, candidates joining a startup don't only have the opportunity to build the company's external success on the market — they can also have a meaningful impact on building the internal company culture as well.
That's something workers at Google, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft can't even hope for. There's very little material effect that any individual can have on the environment or the impact of a massive, established company.
Startups can often offer freedom and flexibility that larger organizations can't. Startups are not typically 9-to-5 operations. This is an asset, because more and more people are looking for other arrangements than the traditional structured workday.
When you can't compete on salary, benefits or name recognition, compete by offering employment that is mission-driven, that rewards results and that is flexible. Offer the chance to build something, to have an impact and to be a key player in something. Someone who is motivated by that offering is someone a protective startup founder can confidently delegate to.