ABR. Always be recruiting. It’s hard to find people exactly when you need them. So, one thing that I did when we started our company was to never stop looking for great people. I talked to people at networking events, at meet-ups, at social gatherings, at conferences and on airplanes. It did not matter if I had an opening or not. You should always want to meet talented people. Quite a few of these people are not looking for a job. They are seemingly happy at where they are until you describe your company’s mission to them and their eyes light up.
I once met a 23-year-old who was working at a competitor who really wanted to join our company, but we did not have an entry level opening at the time. I told him what he should do to further his career and that if he elevated his game and skills, we would be interested in him in about two years at a higher-level position. Two years later I hired him. So, always be recruiting.
Hiring is hard, but hiring for startups can be even harder. As a young company with limited cash flow, hiring the wrong employee can potentially damage or even break your startup. Therefore, you have to be very careful with your decisions and do your best to hire top talent that will fit into your tribe. Below you can find some suggestions on recruiting, hiring and keeping the right people for your startup or company.
Build your company with a mission and vision. In your earliest days, you won’t have the financial resources to offer big paychecks to your employees. In order to convince top talent to come and work for you, you need to build a company with a great mission and a vision that excites them. As a founder, you must be able to share your long-term vision with your potential employees and present your company in the best way. “Do you want to sell sugar water for the rest of your life, or do you want to come with me and change the world?” That single question was how Steve Jobs convinced John Scully, a Pepsi executive at the time, to join Apple.
Start building your brand from day one. One of the main reasons people want to work for certain companies is to be associated with a meaningful brand that is on a mission. Everyone wants to invest in himself/herself to take their career one step further, and a new brand with possible growth opportunities can be exciting for top talent. It’s crucial that you effectively market your company on social media and blogs, sponsor events, meet-ups and show people what it is like to work for a company with a great mission.
Hire your fans. Hiring fans means hiring people who will take ownership within the company and, as a result, will work harder than regular employees. Also, fans are great for word-of-mouth marketing. If they truly enjoy working for your startup, they will tell their friends how great it is to work for you and eventually, these friends will want to work for you as well. If your fans do not have the right skills for your startup, you might consider finding a place for them anyway. A positive attitude can trump skills in some roles.
Consider hiring remote employees. If you are having difficulty finding talent in your local area, remote employees are a necessity. Hiring remote means, you have an entire world full of talented employees from which to choose. Remote working options are a no-cost perk. And if remote employees are not a viable choice for your startup, perhaps you can offer flexible working arrangements, such as working from the office three days a week and two days from home to entice critical talent to choose your company.
Be a great place to work. Word of mouth is an effective tool for finding great talent. If your current employees are happy with their work environment, they will talk to their friends and network about it. Build and maintain a great company culture, be a great place to work and great people will want to work for you. People who enjoy their jobs, co-workers, and environment will work harder, churn less, and add more value to your company. Patagonia gets 95 percent of its new employees from either their internships or referrals.
Hold onto your existing talent. Talented people want to work with other talented people. They are interested in constant growth and being around other talented people who inspire and drive them. Learning from each other and celebrating each other’s successes helps talented people build momentum. And when you have great talent, it becomes easier to attract even more talent. To keep these people, compensate and promote them before they have to ask.
Offer challenging projects. Talented people don’t want to waste their time working on boring or repetitive projects. They want to be challenged, so give people big, stimulating, ambitious goals and they will meet the challenge and thank you for it. Outsource your repetitive projects that are still necessary and important but not a “time suck” on your most talented people.
Talk about your company online. Be open and have a blog, and contribute guest content on relevant sites. Build your brand into a thought leader, and talk about your company. Share the lessons you have learned. Be very aggressive in using social media. Talented people will read your postings and some of them will want to join your team.
Speak at events and network constantly. You can expand your talent hunt by taking the time to speak at startup, industry events and meet-ups. Speaking engagements are great opportunities to sell your company and vision to potential future co-workers. Plus, these are great networking environments. Consider joining a peer group of entrepreneur founders that you can learn from and leverage their insights and network.