It's undoubtedly an exciting time for any startup when after months of long days and sleepless nights, management gives the green light to expand the team and begins the hiring process.
But you'd be doing your company a great disservice to hire simply to increase bandwidth at an early and unstable stage. The first hires you bring on board will play an integral part in shaping the company’s culture, image and direction for years to come.
The company faces a constant stream of small, everyday problems as well as big and looming decisions, and you want to ensure that your founding team has not only the qualifications but the foresight to take organization to the next level. Below are three guiding principles to keep in mind in hiring:
1. Aim for a purpose beyond work.
Ben Huh, CEO of The Cheezburger Network, talked about the differences between work and purpose at October's Feast conference in Brooklyn that I attended. Work, defined by Huh, is what people do and are good at; it's accomplished individually and has a definitive end in sight. Purpose on the other hand is what motivates individuals to rise every day. While purpose is never done, it can be accomplished collectively.
What does this mean in terms of hiring? Look for applicants who are driven by purpose -- capable of having the same goals and passion that you have about the company and the industry. Purpose, rather than work, is what will extend the company’s longevity, fueling the vision and strategy for years to come.
2. Recruit thinkers and doers.
Every early-stage startup is familiar with the long hours, the sleep-when-it’s-finished mentality and the sigh of relief when new team members come on board to take on the numerous responsibilities that previously fell to one person.
But when you start staffing up, look for thinkers and doers. A workhorse is a desirable addition to any team, but someone who can also think past the task at hand will make a critical difference.
Does a given candidate have the qualifications needed for the position as well as the ability to provide recommendations on how to improve the process? Where does the individual see this role evolving to a year down the line? Five years?
The ability to think past the day’s to-do list and work with the future in mind is what will help a company grow in bigger and better ways.
3. Reach for top talent.
Attracting great talent is atop the list of every company's goals, small or large. Hiring leaders in an industry will not only give you bragging rights and add to the appeal of the company. It will also nurture the company's culture and set expectations about the caliber of talent to come.
My company, Poshly, prides itself on hiring subject-matter experts across various competency areas so employees can come together to teach and share with one another. The energy and excitement of learning and working together fosters creative brainstorming and produces more robust end products. Individuals come away from such a process with renewed enthusiasm and purpose, which helps define and develop the company culture and prevents work from feeling only like work.
Forward-thinking companies have a shared mission to create something new or better than what already exists in the marketplace. By building a better product and educating others in the industry, companies can achieve their goals of longevity, sustainability and talent acquisition.
Hiring the right team members from the start helps lay a foundation for the collective accomplishment of the company's goals. These are the people who will help shape and support the organization and its image for years to come. Shouldn’t such hiring involve more than just looking at resumes?
Related: 10 Things Great Talent Always Does