5 Essential Hiring Tips for Growing Startups

If you run a young company looking to expand, recruitment can be a scary task to contemplate.

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By Eric Siu • Apr 21, 2015

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

If you run a young startup looking to grow, recruitment can be a scary task to contemplate. In this case, one of the best things you can do for yourself, and your business, is to learn from the successful CEOs who have already gone before you.

Below, I've pulled together five great pieces of wisdom from business owners and managers who have "been there, done that." Hopefully, they'll provide some much-needed insight as you make the transition from solopreneur to employer.

1. Recruitment continuously to cultivate a pipeline of talent.

According to David Chait, founder and CEO of Travefy.com, "To avoid any hiring lags, startups should always be on the hunt for new talent -- preferably also with an entrepreneurial spirit."

Chait's idea that the best hires for growing startups are those with a similar entrepreneurial bent is important, but what strikes me even more about his advice is his emphasis on the importance of continual recruitment.

I don't know about you, but I've found myself in the unfortunate position before of needing the right person, right now. Good recruitment, on the other hand, takes time. If you aren't continually filling your pipeline with strong candidates, you're going to wind up scrambling at some point or another to fill a much-needed spot -- and you're going to risk filling it with the wrong person just to get a body in the seat.

Related: How to Build a Championship-Worthy Business

I've learned from my past mistakes -- hopefully sharing this will prevent you from making the same ones. As a growing business owner, you simply can't afford to ever stop recruiting. Learning how to hire effectively is one of most important things you can do as an entrepreneur.

2. Be transparent about your needs.

One of the most difficult aspects of startup recruitment is that the needs of a growing company can evolve quickly -- potentially leaving team members behind if their skills are no longer required.

Firas Kitteneh, CEO at One Mall Group, suggests being up front about this challenge, saying, "To hire the perfect new team member, fully disclose current expectations for the role being filled and how that may change as the business evolves and pivots."

Not only will being open about potential shifts in your business needs encourage motivated employees to continuously improve their skill sets, it helps you weed out more traditionally-minded prospects from those with the entrepreneurial mindset Chait referred to earlier.

Far from discouraging candidates from accepting offers with your company, sharing your vision for your business's future challenges will help align you with the prospects who are most likely to be able to handle these changes.

3. Look for candidates who are willing to grow.

On a related note, consider the following recruitment advice from Mike Laven, CEO of Currency Cloud: "The first company I started had a former professional basketball player on the board, who told me something I've never forgotten. "Everybody wants to win, so go after people who want to practice.'"

Working hard is one thing -- being willing to grow is another. A candidate might be willing to come in early, skip lunch and work late, but unless at least some of those hours are dedicated to self-improvement, your employees risk falling behind as your organization changes.

Don't just ask candidates how hard they're willing to work. Ask them specific interview questions that help you determine whether they're willing to invest in themselves throughout their tenure with your company.

Related: Red Flags and Red Herrings in Job Applicants' Credit Reports

4. Hire millennials.

Unfortunately, employees with this type of internal drive aren't the easiest to come by, though some emerging research suggests you're more likely to find the trait in millennials than in workers from older generations.

As Amanda Schneider of Entrepreneurship.org points out, millennials are among the workers most likely to reject the standard nine to five in favor of a flexible schedule that focuses more on achieving objectives than banking hours.

"They want to be able to adapt their work hours to whenever they feel they will be the most productive," she says. "If 8 a.m. doesn't work for them, they want the freedom to start around 10 and get down to work. They care more about getting the job done than worrying about the required eight hours."

That's the kind of work ethic you need, and you might just be more likely to find it in a millennial employee.

5. Create a culture you can be proud of.

When writing on the advice he'd give fellow startup entrepreneurs, Alastair Mitchell, co-founder and CEO of Huddle, shared this gem: "Small things can make a big difference. Organize regular social outings, even if it's just lunch. Get a good coffee machine, a games console and have break-out areas where staff can socialize."

Research on organizational behavior suggests that a positive company culture results in improved morale and decreased absenteeism. So before you hit "Publish" on your next job post listing, take a look around your office and ask yourself if you've created the kind of place you'd want to work in.

If you can't honestly say that you're proud of your company's culture, you're going to find it difficult to convince top talent to get on board.

If you'd like to download all 25 hiring tips, you can get the resource here for free.

Certainly, these tips are great, but they're only the tip of the iceberg. If you have another piece of recruitment wisdom you've learned as an entrepreneur, share it by leaving a comment below!

Related: Hire Smart: How to Tell a Startup Superstar From a Weak Link

Eric Siu

CEO, Single Grain. Founder, Growth Everywhere.

Eric Siu is the CEO of digital marketing agency Single Grain. Single Grain has worked with companies such as Amazon, Uber and Salesforce to help them acquire more customers. He also hosts two podcasts: Marketing School with Neil Patel and Growth Everywhere, an entrepreneurial podcast where he dissects growth levers that help businesses scale. 


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