“Nobody Wants to Work” – and Other Lies Founders Need to Stop Telling Themselves

Kat Kibben, Mary Ellen Slayter, Lakeisha Robichaux

One of the greatest milestones a startup or small business will achieve is expanding their team to accommodate growth. But in the midst of the Great Resignation and with companies struggling to attract and retain talent, how can a small business possibly compete?

In their BREW session, “‘Nobody Wants to Work’ and Other Lies Founders Need to Stop Telling Themselves,” Kat Kibben, Lakeisha Robichaux and Mary Ellen Slayter walked attendees through the startup hiring process.

From writing an effective job posting to ditching legacy requirements, here’s how to attract and hire people who are passionate about working for your business.

Contextualize Your Employer Brand

Before you can hire great talent that fits with the company culture you’ve built, you need to learn how to communicate what makes your workplace different. You need a defined employer brand. “The employer brand really speaks to you as an employer,” Robichaux said. “Everyone needs one so that you can really articulate the mission, the vision, the values, the culture.”

Think about your brand in relation to other organizations in your industry. What are your differentiators? “Every employer really needs to … understand what [your employer brand] is and how to deliver it,” Robichaux continued.

To define your brand, especially your values, Kibben said, offer context by sharing an experience that exemplifies it. “Collaboration” is a common company value, but it can be defined in vastly different ways. Sharing an example of effective collaboration gives context for what that means to your employer brand.

Prioritize Your Talent Budget

Startups in their earliest stages of growth want talent who can perform at a high level, but they don’t want to pay a premium. But it’s important to set realistic expectations for finding talent at the level you need. “They’re going to grow with our business, but they’re not capable of doing the baseline work right now,” Kibben said.

Determine where to prioritize your limited resources for hiring talent. If you can teach someone to do the job, Slayter said, then you can afford to hire and train an intern who can grow with the business. But if it’s not something that you can do yourself, you need to invest more in finding the right person to get that part of your business going.

Reconsider Legacy Requirements

A college degree is necessary for certain fields that rely on a very specific knowledge set, like accounting, legal or clinical work. Robichaux requires her employees to have a degree and experience because they’re managing client risks such as noncompliance with labor and employment laws.

But by and large, that isn’t the case. “How many of us have referred to a college textbook ever in our jobs?” Kibben asked. Think critically about the role: If it isn’t highly specialized or high risk, then consider whether you really need an employee with a four-year degree in that role.

Traditional job postings and legacy requirements aren’t in place to benefit startups. “We are borrowing from an old corporate model that was designed to exclude people,” Slayter said. “We need a model that screens in.”

Personality assessments and HR technology can handle a high volume of applicants and help you find the most qualified candidates instead of screening out candidates for arbitrary reasons, like not having a college degree.

Are you ready to attract the right people to your business?

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