Big things in business are never done by one person. An effective team is the basis of the company’s success at any stage of development.
Today, startups face complex challenges in the labor market. The competitive market is now controlled by candidates, not by companies. Everyone wants to hire gifted specialists – and you too. How to interest a good specialist to work in a modest startup instead of large companies that can offer much more. How do you convince a qualified professional who has a family to support, a mortgage to pay, and many financial obligations to check out a small business just starting up? Reputation plays another important role in candidate selection. That is why it is difficult for startups to attract good, qualified candidates. There are two ways to deal with this. The first is to explain what actually differentiates a startup from well-known companies in the fight for talent. Mission, values and culture will be a significant driver for many candidates. So, when opening a job, you need to emphasize the culture and values of the company, as well as the exciting challenges you can offer when it comes to career growth. The second solution is the EVP or Employee Value Proposition.
How to get interested in working in a startup
EVP is the combination of rewards and benefits that employees typically receive when they do a good job, such as rewards, work-life balance, stability, team structure, and respect. Essentially, EVP provides incentives that not only reward hard work, but also create a supportive and inclusive work environment for everyone.
It is worth remembering that a startup has one advantage: at the start, it is much easier to launch processes in the corporate culture, which will later be scaled synchronously with the increase in tasks and the number of employees. In this way, it is possible to avoid a number of problems that usually arise in a company that did not start the processes of cultivating corporate culture from the beginning, in particular:
- lack of strength, reputation and visibility in the market,
- fierce competition for talent in the current market,
- lack of skills of technical specialists,
- inability to balance recruitment and growth,
- lack of recruitment experience.
Another challenge that a startup may face during expansion is the competition it will face in one way or another in the market for talented professionals. A startup can’t offer the same salaries and benefits that larger companies offer, but it can create a pretty effective EVP. You should start by asking yourself two questions: why did you launch this startup and what makes your business special? Answering these two questions will help you develop a unique selling point and shared value as part of your employer brand and connect with like-minded people. You need to connect with candidates on an emotional level so that they feel that your startup’s values, culture, and mission truly align with the candidate’s personal values. In this case, you will get a better quality of hire and improve the level of employee retention, because the people you target will be attached not only to the company, but also to its mission.
The best way to create a good employee value proposition is to think about employee benefits. Most people are looking for a company that will primarily offer them a good work-life balance, opportunities and interesting projects. Compensation is also important, but a startup cannot really compete in this field, so it must offer an alternative: the prospect of equity in the company, investment in employee training, etc.
How to find talent
Where to find the same talents. Universities produce many qualified personnel every year, but there is a shortage of experienced professionals. So, where to find people for business development? They can be brought up directly in the company, but it will take time – the company cannot sit and wait, because the global development plan will have to be suspended. For example, writing skills are in such high demand and candidates are quickly screened that it leaves many companies at a loss. What to do about it:
Think outside the box. Why not invest in a paid media campaign to promote the job to the right candidates? You can also attend conferences where you can network with ideal candidates. For example, conferences designed specifically for developers or content managers, or related to technology. In most cases, at these conferences you can find the right personnel of various qualifications and tell them about the company in a casual conversation without specific proposals. Passive candidates may not be looking for a new job right away. But they may be interested in your company. They will fall in love with your mission, values, product — and it will make them think about their workplace.
View a list of relevant skills. Some skills can be learned, but attitudes cannot. In other words, if you find a candidate who shares your initiative, your values, but needs a little help to improve their skills, it can work out for both of you. Sometimes you meet professionals from other fields or industries who have amazing attitudes, great communication skills, and you see that they have a desire to learn. Take a chance and invest in them – these people often become the most dedicated and productive employees. Therefore, it is worth reviewing what makes a candidate good for your company and possibly overcoming the problem of a lack of talent in the market.
When you finally find a suitable specialist, an interview should take place with them. One or several? On the one hand, the minimum number of interviews can mean that you move quickly through the hiring process because you select the right candidates. But, on the other hand, there is a risk of hiring the wrong person. An interview works best where you are going to test all the skills the person has. The first block of interview questions will be about communication. For example, you pretend you’re just going to talk, ask hypothetical questions about team conflicts or new ideas — and get a general impression of the candidate’s communication skills and values. Another block of questions will concern professional knowledge and abilities. Colleagues or existing employees can help with this. The third block is shared team values: a person must share the views of the company and the team. Therefore, it is important to invite a third person to this block of questions. So, in fact, the best is a minimum of three interviews. But it is important to conduct at least one such interview, during which you can determine whether the person has the necessary communication skills and professional qualities that you need.
There are companies where the interview process lasts at least six weeks and there are more than five interviews. The danger in such cases is that you risk losing the person you are trying to hire because they do not have the patience to wait more than a month. Therefore, three interviews are the optimal number: one to cover basic skills, the second to cover professional skills, and the third to discuss the candidate with other team members.
When the company has collected a sufficient number of candidates, formed an effective team and successfully launched a startup, there is a pleasant risk of expanding the tasks, the team and the geography of the offices. Therefore, the next question in the logic of the flourishing of an interesting EVP to scaling into a full-fledged employer brand is the balance between company management and team expansion.
When should you hire outsourcing companies
Balancing hiring and growing the company is not easy, if only because being a startup leader means many other important things besides hiring. That is, you will always not have enough time for hiring. Chances are, if you have a leadership team, they too need to constantly focus on other tasks besides recruiting. Recruiting requires a lot of resources, because during recruitment, a company not only advertises a vacancy, but also screens candidates, organizes and conducts interviews. So how do you grow your business while attracting the talent you need to take it to the next level? As the leader of a startup, you may be tempted to do everything yourself. But doing each task alone is too difficult. If there is no time and resources, cooperation with a staffing company can be considered a strategic step, which will allow you to focus your attention on other issues, and leave the selection of personnel in the hands of specialists. Any business of any size can work with a staffing company. A flexible approach to recruitment means that the services offered by agencies can be scaled according to your demand. To ensure successful cooperation with a staffing company, you should make sure of their experience in a specific sector, agree on an approach to hiring personnel and a percentage for cooperation. Also, make sure the agents really understand your business. So, the best way to balance company growth and staffing is to hire a staffing agency.
If you’ve never built a team before, you probably don’t know what to look for, how to structure your team, and who to hire for specific tasks. Lack of recruiting experience can set you back, especially in today’s competitive markets. As a startup founder, you can learn to hire on the job, firing and hiring specialists all the time. But significant layoffs can be very detrimental to business survival. Constant layoffs can make team members worry about why the change is happening and perform better, but it’s also a waste for you because a new hire is an expense. You can overcome the problem of inefficient hiring by outsourcing. Let’s focus on the advantages of cooperation with an outsourcing company, for example, in software development.
First of all, outsourcing will allow you to increase the speed and volume of processes. It also allows you to add more specialists to the development team to complete more projects and perform more tasks.
Second, in-house staffing requires significant efforts to recruit, onboard, evaluate, and retain employees. And if you don’t have an HR department, this can be a very difficult task. Because when you have an employee, you have to sit with them, make a work plan. It takes a lot of time, especially if you don’t have the knowledge and people who have the right skills for it. When you work with an outsourcing partner, it is up to them to evaluate the performance of their team members. In this way, you can free up time for strategic tasks and, eventually, reach the global expansion of the team.
Nowadays, it is very common for companies of any size or startups to expand their team in other regions of the world for various reasons: better rates, better knowledge of technology, and so on. But when you expand globally, make sure you know what challenges await you. And here are some of the challenges you can face when it comes to international hiring:
First, there is a cultural difference. When you are recruiting in a country other than your own, you should be aware of factors such as the appropriate level of education in the country.
Second, you don’t know much about the local competition. If you don’t know what other companies exist in those countries, then how can you compete?
Thirdly, the last problem and one of the most important is not knowing the labor laws of the country in which you are trying to hire. You may be breaking employment laws and regulations without even knowing it.
How to solve it: you can cooperate with a staffing company located in the country of your choice or organize work with an outsourcing company in the necessary directions.
So, a few key takeaways:
- Growing your team for a startup can be quite a challenge. That’s why it’s important to work on your employer brand and employee value proposition.
- You need to think outside the box and find creative ways to improve the hiring process. Sometimes you need to rethink what makes a candidate ideal. Don’t be afraid to contact passive candidates.
- Partnering with staffing agencies and outsourcing companies can be a strategic move as they can help you overcome many challenges.