Start-up Recruitment Strategy

Here’s a list of checkpoints that will help any start-up founder build a recruitment strategy. As always, this list is non-exhaustive and will not be relevant to every situation.

1. Agree fundamental, no compromise attributes needed in employees. Your “formula”. Detail this list. E.g. Down to earth, aggressive, conscientious, funny etc (make it unique to the values of your company). Never at any stage compromise on this list.

2. Define specific roles/people needed. Salaries, bonuses, package. Limits and budget. Work within budget but be prepared to be flexible.

3. Nail your employer branding. Make sure everyone on-board is conveying the same message to any potential employee. Build your employer brand from the go.

4. Define standardised interview process. Very important during growth stages to maintain a standard process to thoroughly vet all potential employees. The interview process will develop and change over time, but never have a different process from one person to the next (obviously different processes for Developers compared to Sales, but keep it the same for the same discipline).

5. Use one, maximum two, head-hunters. The ideal situation is to have one trusted head-hunter who will work on a success-fee model.

6. Have extremely clear and detailed discussions with the head-hunter, communicate your formula, your employer branding, the culture of the company. Explain the interview process, the people you need, job descriptions – a good head-hunter will want as much detail as you can possibly provide – don’t underestimate the importance of this.

7. Let the head-hunter do their job – represent your company well, keep all candidates engaged and updated and quickly qualify the right people for your company.

8. Now it is up to you to execute the interview process precisely as planned. Move quickly, provide feedback, be decisive. Include your head-hunter in feedback discussions – often candidates will open up to head-hunters, being honest about possible reservations, so use this to your advantage. Unanimously agree on feedback. If you can’t agree then don’t hire the person.

9. Once you know you want to hire the person, get the head-hunter to sound out what financial package they would accept. Make a fair but never excessive offer – people bought into your culture and company will always be inspired by the opportunity over money (to a degree), but still pay people fairly with good incentive plans.

10. Be efficient with contracts. Get the head-hunter to keep in touch through notice periods. Stay in contact with the future employee, keep them engaged. With so many companies around, there is huge competition for good people and good people can occasionally be tempted by another opportunity prior to starting with your company.

In my 9 years recruiting for tech companies I have found the most successful are the companies that are able to very quickly standardise the hiring process, build a strong employer brand and communicate the culture and expectations very clearly.

These are small things that can often be overlooked in the rush to hire people. Take your time at the start and it will be worth it in the future.