The Four Hiring Challenges Every New Startup Faces

While bigger businesses are fine leaving some positions open for months, smaller companies trying to get off the ground don't have that luxury

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By Phillipa Rust


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Startups have the distinct challenge of needing to scale their team quickly without a dedicated human resource (HR) team. Sometimes the company received a significant amount of new users or other times funding opportunities go through. Whatever the reason, hiring can be a challenge.

Startups and entrepreneurs often have the same problems when trying to find new members of the team. Here are four common hiring challenges and how to overcome them.

There's No HR

Startups rarely have someone on the team well-versed in HR best practices. And there is certainly no HR department in smaller companies. Many startup leaders don't even know where to start when trying to find someone, other than asking around to friends and family.

Startups that find themselves in this position should start with writing an accurate job posting. Write down exactly what is needed from this person and the skills they should possess. While it's tempting to add personality and humor into a job listing, try not to do that. Instead, clearly and succinctly explain the job details. This will make it easier to dig through candidates if there is a set list of qualifications they must meet.

Less Money on Offer

Startups, at first, cannot compete in terms of salary with big businesses. But they still want top talent to help grow the team. While many startups try to lure in candidates with happy hour Fridays or free lunches, employees want real benefits instead.

There are unique perks that startups can offer to attract top talent. Offering flexible working and remote working is a great option, especially when recruiting millennials. Startups that focus on employees output rather than who works, when, and from where will have many more applicants. Furthermore, startups can always offer equity to make up for a lower salary.

Short on Time

Of course, the time crunch is a significant concern for startups. While bigger businesses are fine leaving some positions open for months, that luxury is not often awarded to smaller companies trying to get off the ground.

Startups should set up tests to screen candidates. Depending on the position, this test will change. Marketers should all endure a writing test and IT positions will have a more technical undertaking. For the candidates that pass the test, call their references to screen again. Find out their strengths and weaknesses to assess whether or not they'd be a fit on the team. And, of course, the interview is crucial when trying to find someone fast.

Another solution is contracting or outsourcing the work until a strong candidate emerges. If a project needs to get done now, this is a quicker solution than going through the hiring process. Startups can still look for a full-time person but get work done at the same time.

No Local Candidates

Another problem startups face is finding a local candidate for the job. Startups located in technology hubs are competing with tech giants that can offer higher salaries. Startups located outside of technology hubs likely find themselves with a limited number of candidates that even apply.

Startups facing this challenge should open the job up to a remote position to capture more applicants. Maybe the person could travel to the team once per month or biannually. Alternatively, by opening up the job to remote workers, startups might find someone looking to relocate.

Hiring takes time and patience, no matter what the company size. Startups usually have to find savvy candidates that can handle a fast-paced environment, but they don't always have the resources or time to devote to the hiring process. These tips will help any startup looking to grow its team.

Phillipa Rust

Director at The Intern Group (Australia)


Phillipa is the Director of The Intern Group's Australia division. The Intern Group provides international internship programs with the purpose to inspire and encourage people to believe in and challenge themselves, discover their passion and realize their potential.


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