Recruiting Basics for a Startup or Small Company


When it’s time for your company to grow, it can be a challenge to find the people you need. You’re competing against larger, older companies that have an established hiring process, and that have the time and resources to find just the right match. But with some strong processes and a little luck, you’ll find the people you need.

“Just like with recruiting in more established companies, there is not a one-size-fits-all approach,” says Christina Boudreaux, owner and senior talent consultant at Talent Made Simple. “It often takes a strategy that includes a variety of different methods to attract talented candidates into the organization.

Here are the basics for a startup or small company to do recruiting right and compete with larger firms for talent.

Define Your Employer Brand

One of the challenges that startups and small companies face when recruiting is that they don’t have the brand recognition that larger competitors have — they’re less able to attract the kind of talent they need to grow because nobody knows about the company. So defining and marketing your brand as early as you can will help you compete, Boudreaux says.

“Leverage opportunities to educate those in the community about your company and all that it has to offer,” she says. Social media is a great, cost-effective way to get the word out about your company and the opportunities you offer, she says. Networking can also spread the word and educate others about who you are, what you do and your employee value proposition.

Look for ‘Shareholders’

You know how hard it can be to work at a startup. Long, irregular hours and flexible roles aren’t for everybody, so it’s important to identify people who have the desire and motivation to help grow and drive business results, Boudreaux says. “Startups are often high-risk, high-reward situations for employees at all levels, so keys to success are identifying employees who have a ‘shareholder’s mentality’ and are high energy, and results driven to achieve organizational goals.”

When interviewing, use behavioral questions that ask about specifics in a candidate’s past to learn how they worked at other startups. For example, you could ask the candidate to tell you about a time when they collaborated effectively on a project when they had to step outside their role. “Startups aren’t for everyone,” Boudreaux says, so finding a good fit is vital.

Work from a Strategic Plan

Having a human capital strategy is key to growing your business, Boudreaux says. “Start with the basics to develop the structure in this area to effectively and legally recruit and select top talent early on,” she says.

Startup owners often need to find a balance between speed and precision when hiring, so planning is vital, as is flexibility. “Oftentimes growth will come fast, and if you can’t ramp up resources quickly to deliver upon the services that you’ll provide, you may miss out on some great opportunities,” she says. “Although you need to move fast, invest the time to make good hiring decisions to surround yourself with a high-performing organization.”

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