How start-ups can hire better


Like every start-up promises a differentiated delivery, be it product or service, a fresh approach is much needed when it comes to spotting and sourcing a talent, and also to retain and nurture them.

Running a start-up was never a cinch for anyone. But ask an entrepreneur about the most challenging part of the journey, he/she would rate ‘hiring activity’ as the extreme problematic area. Finding the right people is indeed an uphill struggle. Irrespective of the background of the founder, it’s always a challenge to meet the demand on the people side.

As an entrepreneur friend says, “Imagine a prospective candidate calls you for directions. But never turns up. You later find out that he decided not to pursue it further after taking a look at your office.”

In the advanced market such as the US, employees are more open to working with a start-up than back in India. Probably, it’s because US has many examples, where a start-up has really made it big and has benefitted large number of employees besides its promoters. On the contrary, in the Indian market, the number of failures exceeds the successes.

In the US, candidates, when applying for a job in a start-up, normally evaluate the budget and then agree on a salary. They are also ready to take a pay-cut in lieu of some stock options. However in India, candidates expect a hike in salary of 35-40 per cent on top of employee stock options. Many even use interviews with startups as practice sessions.

One should remember that the evaluation doesn’t only happen at the employers’ end. Even candidates asses their prospective employers. People often decided on the basis of the level of funding the project has garnered – whether it has received just the seed fund or an ‘A’ series funding.

Like every start-up promises a differentiated delivery be it product or service, it also needs a fresh approach when it comes to hiring, right from spotting a talent to sourcing and also retaining and nurturing the talent.

Here are the few points, start-ups need to watch out for while hiring.

1. Relying on freshers can perilous
A common practice at start-up companies is to hire a bunch of talented freshers because at times that’s the only or the easiest option. However, often this might backfire, especially for technical or specialised jobs. The company has to invest few months in training these individuals with no guarantee of long- term commitment.

Besides, if a start-up is able to evangelise a manager from a big firm, he/she will build a better team using contacts and connections. It could turn out to be a talent attracts talent story.

2. ‘Recommendation’ is not always recommended
A general norm at start-ups is to hire through recommendation. Firstly it saves cost and second it is considered to be more reliable. Hiring through social networks or hiring a small recruitment agency for a little fee could do wonders. Attending networking events at schools, colleges, conferences to make your company’s presence felt could be yet another option.

3. Try and change the metrics of selection
Often the time-tested approach of evaluating a candidate doesn’t work in a start-up scenario. Rather, one should assess the passion quotient of the candidate while zeroing on a candidate. Aspirants who have been spectacular in extra-curricular activities such as sports, debate, etc., in their schools and colleges display the ability to organise and perform well under stress or duress.

4. Internal branding is imperative
Hire employees who believe in the product. And for that it’s very important to sell the brand internally. Start-ups with B2C (business to consumer) offerings are more attractive to job-seekers than B2B (business to business). For B2B start-ups, attractive client list can be the USP to entice the candidates.

5. Be transparent
A start-up should evaluate its strengths and play by them. It’s very important to communicate the organisation’s vision to the employees. One should define its short-term plans, be clear about its long-term goals, elucidate the growth prospects and also illustrate how the stocks can become a valuable holding in the future.

6. Offer intangible benefits
A start-up must have something more to offer in the intangible sense. Flexible working both in terms of time and style is an attractive proposition for many. This helps employees build a good work- life balance.

7. Offer growth prospects
Offering help with further education, training and development, travel opportunities and exposure irrespective of internal hierarchy, stock options and percentage ownership are some of the other lucrative propositions to attract talent.

8. Creating a culture is imperative
Start-ups should build a culture from the onset that appeal to the young, passionate mind. How a start-up recruits has a direct effect on whom it attracts and the workplace it creates. It eventually influences the employee’s decision to stay. Engaging employees can be effective as stress which untenably is part of a start-up gets dissipated.

9. Don’t mind the failures
A start-up should strive to remove its’ team’s fear of failure. As a good mentor, one can get the best out of his/her team and create a sense of gratitude and loyalty. There is a start-up which has a punching bag in office just to allow associates to vent out their frustrations.

10. Never stop hiring
Don’t stop looking for suitable candidates, once you have a team in place. If you are running a start-up, you never know what’ll hit you next.

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