Avoid These 5 Mistakes When Hiring Startup Talent

Startup CEOs often say the number-one thing that makes their company successful is a tight-knit team–one that’s able to collaborate and continually improve the business. But finding the right fit for any position can be tough, and all startups make mistakes when it comes to hiring.

Many startups aren’t yet established enough to hire recruiters or bring on an HR team. That means they may need some extra guidance when it comes to landing and retaining the most talented candidates for the job. So what should startups be focusing on when it comes to finding the right talent for the team? Avoid these five mistakes when hiring new talent:

1. Relying only on job boards. In the 21st century, posting a job description to online job boards is expected and encouraged, but you’ll falter if it’s the only move you make to publicize your open position. While you shouldn’t skip over niche job boards, you should also be actively combing through sites like Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook to seek out quality candidates yourself. Look for candidates that have a strong personal brand and demonstrate an active and ongoing interest in your expertise or industry.

2. Not networking. Plenty of new hires come from referrals–this is true across the board for companies in any industry. Attending networking events and taking the time to introduce yourself to professionals you admire is essential to getting your company’s name out there and solidifying new career connections. Have business cards handy at every event where you may meet potential hires, and take the time to follow up with candidates or schedule an informational interview to help them learn more about what you do.

3. Hiring only friends. Your startup may be near and dear to your heart, but that doesn’t mean you should only trust friends and former colleagues to help you get it off the ground. While a friend may fit your company culture, they may also expect to be treated differently than other employees. It’s important to focus on hiring the best person for both the job and the culture–you’ll risk hurting morale and productivity otherwise.

4. Skipping the contract. Your startup may have limited resources, but don’t rely on a handshake to solidify your employee relationships. Every hiring decision should be backed up by a formal, signed contract spelling out the specifics of the position and expectations. The contract should cover the start date, job title and description, hours of work, compensation, deductions, expenses, holidays, pension, etc. In short, anything your employee may need to know should be laid out and agreed upon before their first day in the office.

5. Failing to onboard. Plenty of companies don’t properly onboard employees, and this ultimately impacts retention. Ensure your employees are feeling prepared on their first day of work by providing them with a handbook of materials to help them learn the ropes and get started. Explain “unwritten” rules of company culture, and spend adequate time with each new employee to address any questions they may have.

For startup companies new to the hiring process, mistakes are rampant. Avoid these missteps as you attempt to help your startup grow, and watch as productivity flourishes.

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Written by:
Heather R. Huhman is a career expert, experienced hiring manager, and founder & president of Come Recommended, a content marketing and digital PR consultancy for job search and human resources technologies. She is also the author of Lies, Damned Lies & Internships (2011) and #ENTRYLEVELtweet: Taking Your Career from Classroom to Cubicle (2010). Find Heather on Google+.
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