Startups are powered by their people more than any claim to a reputation, an established corporate structure, or any other resource readily available to big corporation budgets. As such, they have to be very careful when it comes to their hiring guidelines. Below are four essential rules that startups should keep in mind when it comes to hiring if they want to avoid superfluous employees.
1. Identify from the start the positions that require people with more experience.
As a startup working on a budget, you won’t be able to hire dozens of people across the board, but you should have one or two team members with stellar credentials to bring to the table. Just assigning them whatever role is open isn’t wise though – you have to put them in roles that deserve their expertise.
For example, look for the areas of your startup that will likely see the most growth in the future. The more growth you expect from a department or role, the more competent the person handling it should be. Hiring great people for these positions from the start will be a sound investment.
2. Don’t be so impressed by big names on resumes that you make a bad decision on an applicant.
As the previous rule noted, you need people with prior experience to build a company. But you don’t need people who have only that prior experience going for them.
There’s a tendency for startups to become obsessed with “snatching up” someone who used to work for big brand companies that they unconsciously make assumptions on that applicant’s skill set. “Since he worked for X-Big-Brand before, he must surely be able to do this or know how to do that…” or so goes the reasoning.
But you have to remember that nothing’s sure until it’s been proven. Hiring someone who used to work for a big company doesn’t automatically assure you that the person is the right man for your company or capable of delivering what you need. Remember too that you don’t know if he has the essential skill set that will make him capable of working without the high-level, top-of-the-line resources he might have had in a big corporation… and which you, as a startup with limited resources, very likely won’t have.
3. Culture does matter—and remember that you’re building one.
Every workplace has its own particular culture, and what works for some doesn’t work as well for others. A productive culture for some companies could be based on rigidity while for others it could be based on free thinking.
You need to think carefully about the culture you’re building—and the people with whom you’re building it. If rigidity isn’t part of your vision, for example, you should think very carefully before hiring someone whose work ethics treat it as the core organizational principle.
4. Look for people whose instinctive responses are similar to yours—especially for leadership positions.
That way, you can afford to delegate more authority to them. The ability to trust that your people will do things as you would want them done—even when they don’t ask you about it—is valuable when you’re building a team. By trusting in them, you can give them more independence, freeing yourself to concentrate on other tasks that can take your startup company to the next level.