Here Are 4 Things To Look For When Hiring Talent For A Startup

Getty/ Scott Olson

Getting a great team together in the early stages of your business is a challenging task.

We all know that active talent acquisition strategies are key in a startup, as is creating an open, engaging and cutting-edge brand that people want to be a part of.

But when it comes to building your leadership team, how can you know if a candidate is really right for your business – especially when it’s only just got it off the ground?

Here are a few things to consider when hiring.

1. Multi-Level Knowledge

In such a fast-paced and dynamic environment, it’s a huge asset to have employees contribute to different areas of the business. Ultimately, you will need to surround yourself with people that can ‘wear many hats’. This has been a philosophy that we adopted very early on in the hiring process. Need to hire for tech? Get full-stack developers. Marketing? Get people that know offline and online marketing techniques.

Today, candidates with multi-level experience are crucial.

“A big area of growth in 2014 will be crossover roles,” claims Nick Deligiannis, the MD of Hays Australia and New Zealand. “As the technology, marketing and finance worlds integrate it will be key to find people who can move across all sectors, with multi-level knowledge.”

While candidates with single areas of expertise will still be valuable, those with expertise and knowledge across various areas will be instrumental in developing and driving your business capability and direction. As your startup grows, these versatile team members will ultimately make up the nucleus of the team as you hire specialist roles around them.

2. Live And Breathe The Product

When you hire people, not only do they need to get goosebumps when they think about the product and the success of the business, they also need to understand the visions inside-out.

My philosophy is new employees should use and love the product. At DesignCrowd, most of our customer service is made up of former DesignCrowd users who loved the product and know it inside-out. They are the advocates who will drive a business forward.

3. The Cultural Aspect

This is one of the most vital aspects of any talent strategy. In established organisations, it’s more about finding someone who will ‘fit in’ or maybe challenge the existing company/team culture.

But in the early stages of a startup, the people you hire will shape what your culture ultimately becomes, especially if these people end up becoming directors, managers or team leaders.

Think about your ideal company culture at this point and consider what a potential candidate can bring to the ‘cultural’ table. Which of their behaviours can you see influencing your company culture? How do their values, beliefs, traits and habits fit in with your company mission?

“Unless you have a firm grasp as a team of your company’s goals and identity,” says Harris Goodman on Forbes.com, “you’ll have trouble agreeing on which people will help you achieve the right culture and eventually build a great business.”

4. Passions

Each different startup will have different hiring goals, but passions will always be the same. Good candidates should have three:
1) A passion for what they do,
2) A passion for your industry, and
3) A passion for the start-up environment – which also implies flexibility, creativity and a willingness to grow and change.

Whatever gaps you are trying to fill, passionate team members are the ones who will bring more value to your business, both at the ‘ideas’ level and at the more strategic or operational ones.

Choose employees with a high level of passion but don’t forget to make sure they are able to implement their passionate ideas practically and logically as well in the small business environment.

Proactive talent hiring and creative acquisitions will mean you end up with brilliant company employees that impact your start-up in ways you may have never imagined.

Adam Arbolino is the co-founder and CTO of custom design site DesignCrowd.com.au

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