I consider myself a recruitment expert. I’ve built a career in Human Resources and pride myself on the ability to hand pick the cream of the crop for unique roles and to add value to both business and organizational culture. My track record speaks for itself.
So you can imagine my surprise (and to be honest, dismay) when I realised that start-ups were a whole other beast and perhaps this fancy pants recruiter (with a start-up recruitment business) had a lot to learn!
It’s a good thing I love learning and I especially love sharing learning experiences… so here’s my advice when hiring for start-ups…
Choose people who don’t mind getting their hands dirty.
Let’s face it, the reality versus the glamour of a start-up are worlds apart. Money is tight, resources are tight and we all have to chip in even if it’s not in our job description!
Choose people with diverse skills and knowledge.
Whilst we’d all love to hire those specialist positions – the people who are top of their game and experts in a niche area, there’s far more value to be gained for a new business when skills can be transferred. Get a Business Development Manager with marketing panache and an Office Manager with basic accounting skills – you’ll get more value and ensure your business has a cross section of skills.
Choose people with ideas.
A start-up should be a melting pot of new ideas and innovative concepts. I love it when my Admin staff come to me with ideas for client acquisition or my Marketing Executive thinks up new ways to cut costs without compromising quality. Choose people with creative minds who aren’t afraid to share their thoughts.
Choose people who are resilient.
When I interview I ask ‘are you prepared to get knocked down and get back up again, and get knocked down and get back up again… a hundred times?’ because sometimes that’s what it feels like in a start-up business. You’re new, you try new things, you sometimes have no idea what will work and what won’t work – it’s not always easy, nobody forged the path before you. Only the resilient need apply.
Choose people who embody the culture you want for your business.
When you have a team of 300 people, sure the new person should still be a good culture fit – but the culture is already there, they don’t have to build it from scratch. When starting a new business, choose people whose natural style compliments your vision for the business – it takes the hard part out of building a culture.
Choose people who have been involved in start-ups before, or have shown you that they truly understand the thrills and challenges.
It doesn’t matter if their first start-up was a failed one, ask them what they have learnt. The very fact they’re coming back for more tells you that entrepreneurship is in their blood. Many people are drawn to the idea of a start-up but aren’t so thrilled with the reality of it. For the people who like to sit in a comfort zone, it’s not the right fit.
Leave a comment and let me know any other tips you have for recruiting for a start-up!
KATE HARDEN is the Co-Founder and CEO of International Alumni Job Network. Kate has over 10 years experience in contemporary HR and Recruitment in Australia and Asia. Kate is passionate about people, learning and working together for positive outcomes.