Finding the right talent is one of the biggest challenges businesses face today, and all the more so for startups. Especially for a small company, bad hires can prove fatal. Whilst 3 out of 4 early-stage founders say hiring is their number one concern, majority spend less than 20% of their time on it. This dissonance is a real issue, as failure to form the right team is the third most frequently cited reason for startup failure.
As a company that specializes in helping both early-stage businesses and Fortune 500 companies hire, we can attest to the importance and challenge of creating a solid team. The struggle is real. Here are several insights to help you attract a pool of strong talent to jump-start your startup.
1. Define and articulate your identity from day one
Take time to articulate what it is that your business strives to achieve (its “mission”) and the desired position your company aspires to reach (its “vision”). This process will enable you to identify the ethos that your startup requires, hence helping you to create critical job roles and pinpoint the specific personalities, skill sets, and mindsets that you need to succeed.
Having a clear, true, and distinct company identity and strategic direction not only helps you understand the types of people you need, it also serves as a message to attract the right candidates. For most early-stage startups, attracting talent by way of financial compensation is both challenging (due to limited resources) and toxic (due to cultural dilution). The right candidates are those that join first and foremost because they believe in your mission, vision and team.
For early-stage and mission-driven companies, always sell your vision. At GO-JEK, their founder Nadiem Makarim often tells candidates that “we work here not only for ourselves, but we are here to change millions of lives out there.” Don’t sell candidates the opportunity for a career change; sell candidates the opportunity to make a real change.
2. Create a candidate experience that is efficient and respects talents
In finding talents, your candidate experience matters. An IBM report found that 65% of candidates who are dissatisfied with their recruitment experience will talk to their friends, family, and worse, 36% of them will reject a job offer if given by the company. Not only can a bad candidate experience sideline whatever mission your startup stands for, dissatisfaction will also expose you to the risk of not getting the right talents.
On the flip side, a satisfactory candidate experience is linked to greater advocacy. Regardless of whether they get a job offer, more than 62% of applicants who are happy with their experience are likely to recommend the hiring company to others.
It is then not too far-fetch to say that candidate experience can make or break your candidates’ decision to join. It goes beyond your career page and how you let people apply for your job. Ask yourself: do you inform candidates of their status in the process? Regardless of them getting a job offer or not, the golden rule is to treat all candidates well. At the same time, however, you find yourself trapped in having to keep every candidate constantly updated on top of your already overwhelming workload.
It’s never too soon to start using an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) that helps you manage your company-wide recruitment from one simple dashboard, eliminating a lot of the administrative work that is associated with the process. Even for early-stage businesses, the cost of subscribing to an ATS is often far cheaper than the value of the time you would need to spend to manually recruit.
Other benefits of implementing an ATS earlier, including integrating with your career website, interview schedulers, and automatic email messaging. These components present a level of professionalism to your candidates that speaks volumes especially when coming from a young business. They also help preserve your brand goodwill; a polite, albeit automatically generated message informing candidates that they weren’t the best fit for the role is a simple act of transparency that will give relief to the candidates, and encourage them to speak positively about your company to others.
3. Be a great place to work and show it to the world
Now that you have your value proposition and candidate experience sorted out, it is essential to ensure you have a supportive working environment and culture. It is proven that business willing to build, maintain, and authentically showcase their culture are more successful in hiring great talent.
Don’t be hesitant to show how you and your colleagues work. Be open, write stories, take photographs, post on social media or create a blog to narrate the everyday ups and downs at your office. Encourage your startup’s leaders and talents to take speaking opportunities, building their personal brand as thought leaders. Great talents want to work for great leaders, so make sure your company leaders are visible, vocal and visionary.
Although time and money are finite, ensuring that your startup is formed by like-minded people that share the same vision and direction is vital. Don’t fall victim to bad hiring decisions that were the failure of poor strategy, process and communication. Investing the right time, people and resources to optimize your hiring will not guarantee success; but not doing it will almost certainly guarantee failure.
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1 First Round Review, http://stateofstartups.firstround.com/2017/#on-leadership