Talent Acquisition

How to Avoid the Top 5 Startup Hiring Mistakes

Unlike Fortune 500 companies who have the leeway and budget for the occasional poor hire, the same fate can make or break a startup in it’s first stages of early growth. Whether it’s due to budget, little time or lack of hiring experience, it’s pretty easy to fall in the trap of making some common startup hiring mistakes.

Luckily, with the appropriate know-how you can make sure that you’re not just hiring right, but hiring the right people. To help you on your way here’s a list of top tips to avoid the most typical startup hiring mistakes.

1) Work out what you need:

One of the most common startup hiring mistakes is hiring without a plan. It’s one thing hiring talented people, but if there’s no real place for them in the structure of your business they’ll be left floundering between various tasks and/or departments.

Make a list of the areas that need development, outline the positions that would cover those tasks and use this information to craft a detailed job description for each role – create ad’s that describe exactly what you’re looking for.

Doing this won’t only ensure that you attract applicants with the right skills, but hiring people who are genuinely suited to their positions will cultivate a vital sense of engagement amongst your employees i.e. so they stick around.

2) Show your best side:

The second common startup hiring mistake is to assume that the hiring process is separate from your company as a whole. It isn’t. Your approach to recruitment will represent your employer branding to the outside world, so naturally it needs to show your best side.

Ideally, you want to have a professional career page on your site to direct your applicants to. Least of all your branded job advertisements need to be attractive, with a brief bio about the company and clear instructions on how to apply.

Remember, it’s a competitive world out there – posting an ad with an email address isn’t going to cut it. You need to lure the best candidates over, and that means ensuring that everything they see from your job description to your Facebook page is kept up to scratch.

3) You get what you pay for:

It’s tempting to hire on the cheap when you’re on a budget but unless your literally operating on a shoestring, it’s worth investing in your new employees. Hire the best you can afford, and you’ll be paid back in the long run with invaluable experience and skills.

Naturally, there are exceptions to this rule. Not all skilled professionals arrive demanding high salaries, nor are all skilled candidates professionals. A university graduate with a degree in Software Engineering might be just what you need, in which case there’s a fair chance they’re not going to break the bank.

Either way, make sure you’ve got your negotiation skills in the bag before someone arrives for an interview. Having a salary in mind with a little leeway either side is going to give you a little room to barter, as it were.

4) Don’t hire on a whim:

Another one of the top startup hiring mistakes is to hand over a job because they’re a great guy, or they’re a friend of a friend, or it’s your cousin, or your old classmate who’s just moved to town. Even if that person is incredibly talented, don’t let a personal connection cloud your judgement.

There’s nothing wrong with hiring someone from within your social circle, in fact word-of-mouth referrals often throw up the best candidates, but you want to interview a few people before you can be 100% sure they’re the right fit.

If at the end of your interviews your gut instinct is still telling you that that person is the one, then go with it. More often than not though, having a choice of candidates to choose from will alter your decision pretty dramatically.

5) Avoid rushing:

When it comes to finding new employees, time is often of the essence. Rushing is also one of the most common startup hiring mistakes, it leads to poor judgement, rushed decisions and ultimately poor hires.

If you’re in a hurry, make sure you’re at least interviewing with one other member of your team (in fact this applies whether you’re in a hurry or not). Take the time to at least interview your top candidates, and resist the urge to hire the first good fit that comes your way.

As with most things, a little preparation will take you a long way. Even if you need that JavaScript developer like, yesterday, bear it in mind that the wrong choice could set you far further back in the long run.

Whether you’re hiring a Graphic Designer or an CEO, avoiding these common startup hiring mistakes will hopefully put you on the right road to a successful hire. Have any more recruitment tips for fledgling startups? Feel free to add your suggestions to the comments below.

Image: Shutterstock

By Selina Kerley

Selina Kerley is a blogger living and working in Berlin. She spends her days researching the world of online recruitment, in order to bring the latest news, hints & tips and hiring strategies to the world. Selina is currently working for recruitment software specialists softgarden.