Startup Hiring Guide: 9 Important Tips

Editorial Team

Startup Hiring Guide

Of all business institutions, startups find hiring most challenging. This practice that seems easy for established organizations take a significant toll on them, calling for extra care and thoroughness. It further worsens if the talent acquisition is remote, denying them a physical assessment and interaction with the candidates.

There is an endless pool of talents to fish from. However, vetting all the possible candidates and picking the right one can take too much time and requires lots of effort, especially if you have tons of applications.

Startups are generally on the receiving end, given that they mostly have limited resources, a tight schedule, and nobody to outsource from.  What then can these establishments do to ensure that they end up with the best talents. The first thing that anybody will tell you as a startup owner is not to panic. That may work, but what next after not panicking?

This article looks at some of the tips that will help startup owners hire employees or workers for their next projects. By the end of the article, we hope that you will know how to go about talent acquisition to execute your startup projects successfully.

Startup Hiring

As a startup owner, you must figure out exactly what you need in your new hires. You should have a list of some of the things that you cannot compromise on and others that you can go easy on, albeit heavy-heartedly.

Knowing what you expect in your new hire will help you arrive at the best choice of candidate for any role in your organization. It will also simplify the hiring process by leaving you with a few candidates to vet instead of the entire pool of applicants. Remember, hiring is just one step. You need to save time and focus on other activities such as the actual execution of your startup project; the main reason why

Here are a few tips that should help you go about your startup’s human resource acquisition for your next project:

1.    Come Up with a List of Mandatory Qualifications (Non-negotiables)

The first thing that you ought to do before advertising for vacancies in your organization is to develop a list of non-negotiable qualifications for the different roles necessary to execute your projects. These can be credentials, experience, attributes, certifications, or behavioral traits.

We advise that you distance yourself from the ‘normal’ universal role qualifications and look deep within your organization. What does the role play in your next project? After answering that, you will know what your new hire should have.

Remember, for startups, you need hires with highly specialized skill sets. Therefore, have a ‘bar’ for your candidates to help you weed out the applicants and only remain with those that fit your organization’s needs. . It will also help you identify the relevant resumes, saving you time and effort.

What are some of these non-negotiables? Remember, we can only advise you, but what you settle on squarely depends on you. However, some of the mandatory qualifications that you can come up with include: Experience with given software tools, mandatory experience working in a startup environment, a specific qualification, proof of accomplishments working in a startup environment, and any other thing you can think of that will be beneficial to your organization.

Do not go soft on your non-negotiables. If a potential hire does not meet any of them, set his/ her application aside and continue combing through others.

2.      What Can You Offer Them That Other Startups Can’t?

Even though your primary focus should be on getting the right talents for your next project, you have to think about what they stand to gain. What will you offer them? Everyone knows that the startup space is not only competitive but also has a very high turnover.

It would help to think about incentives that will appeal to your candidates: those that outshine other startups as well as challenge more prominent corporations. Remember, nobody is willing to compromise and accept a lesser deal just because you haven’t rooted your tentacles deep into the business world.

People want rewards equivalent to their experience and what they offer to organizations. Most organizations do this, meaning that you have to include other lucrative offers. You do not have to double or triple their salaries. Incentives don’t need to be monetary.

You can choose to stand out and offer the candidates flexible hours and even creative freedom, which most companies limit. You can also assure them that you will give them a stress-free working environment or even inform them of some of the advantages of working for your organization.

All in all, tell the candidates what they would like to hear and ensure that you stick to your end of the bargain. You will have several qualified people (who believe that they deserve only the best) line up for a position.

3.      Come Up with The Perfect Job Description

Drafting a good job description is one area that companies rarely get right. Even some of the biggest organizations have not yet understood the art of coming up with excellent job listings. It is an art since it requires more than copying and pasting universal job descriptions from the internet. A good job description calls for originality, precision, and specificity.

Note that most of the brainstorming will happen here. Job descriptions are more important for startups since they determine whether they will get the right employees to steer them to becoming an established organization or not.

It (job description) gives startup owners a chance to tell the pool of potential candidates what is needed for a given position. It informs them what you are looking for in a candidate, the roles and responsibilities you expect from them, and what your company offers that others do not.

I hope you now understand why copying and pasting a job application from the internet is a terrible idea. Even though it sounds like something easy, it is not. This explains why even some of the most prominent organizations cannot get it right.

How then do you write the best job description? By breaking it into unique sections and answering questions. for example, you have to answer the question, ‘who you are, ‘what is expected from a candidate, what you need/ looking for, and ‘why a candidate should submit his/ her application’.

Do not, therefore, list the responsibilities and requirements and then conclude your job description by telling candidates to submit their applications to a given email without telling them why they should apply. Well, that may work for an established organization, but not a startup.

It is easy to assume that being an employer gives you power over the applicants( which may be true), but experienced candidates, who know what they are worth, will expect you to win their trust. Will their contributions to the startup’s projects be acknowledged? Can they trust you to keep your end of the bargain, given that there is no long-term employee who can vouch for you? These two questions explain why you have to be exceptional in coming up with a job description. Do not exude the occasional ‘rudeness’ that several established firms have when sourcing talents.

Also, make sure that the writing process is as simple as possible to prevent your job description from being too wordy, or as others would term it, verbose. This can intimidate candidates who may miss out on some crucial information.

All in all, ensure that the job description has your non-negotiables and incentives and reflects your company’s human side. Also, it needs to be scannable, which can be best achieved by breaking it up into sections and using bullet points.

4.      Fish In the Right Places

Potential hires are everywhere. You will never run short of workers looking for job opportunities. However, you must know the right places to fish for them. The most obvious is within your network or circle of friends.

Whenever a trusted colleague, coworker, or friend recommends someone for a job, it serves as a background check on the candidate’s reliability and experience. Also, getting recommendations from your immediate network means that you will not be hiring someone completely ‘unknown’, especially if it is a short-term job.

You can use job boards to post your openings. We advise you to focus on startup-specific job boards as these are generally tailored towards companies that are just beginning. You should mostly expect applications from former startup employees.

You can also scout talent on LinkedIn, one of the world’s biggest job networks. This means that you will be playing the role of the recruiter. You can find as many potential candidates as possible by just performing a search.

5.      Conduct Extensive Background Check on The Candidates

Proper staffing requires the elimination of potentials. One of the best ways of doing this is by conducting a background check on them to help you know who you are dealing with and whether they can fit in your startup. You can talk to their former employer, coworkers, or colleagues.

You can also go through their socials and conduct a deep, intensive background check. This will help you uncover some of the details and traits that are hard to come by through interviewing and simple assessment.

6.      Look For Specific Qualities That Startup Employees Should Have

Your hires need to be exceptional. As a startup owner, the team you put up greatly determines whether you will succeed and stay in the market or close your doors after a short while. Therefore, when hiring, look out for the following qualities:

  • Excellent and Quick Decision Making

You are still new to the industry, which means that everything must move quickly. Your employees should, therefore, confidently make decisions and communicate them through the proper channels.

  • Ability to teamwork

Your hires need to embrace collaboration, especially in the startup environment. Remember, moving forward requires the combined effort of everyone on board. Ensure that you hire employees who are comfortable working in teams.

  • Determination

Startups require lots of work. The best way of dealing with burnout is by staying motivated. The suitable candidates should therefore be ready to give their all without being workaholics.

  • Interest to learn

Make sure that you pick on people who are eager to learn. This is important in startups, given that employees may have to attend to various responsibilities beyond the stipulated roles. Get people who can learn and get out of their comfort zone.

7.      Have a Good Communication Process

What happens after you have identified a list of potential employees based on their applications and qualifications? You will need to reach out. After reaching out to the candidates, make sure that the communications that follow will be clear and consistent.

We advise that you leverage technology when doing this. You can choose to schedule meetings on Outlook and Google Calendars directly and automatically generate call-in links. Just make sure that you have a communication suite that will help you keep in touch with the job candidates and your current teammates.

8.      Conduct a Through Interview

The interview process is usually the main determinant of who gets the job or not. Even though the burden of proving oneself lies on the interviewee, you, as the interviewer, must ask the right questions. Do not go round and round and fail to ask questions that are important to your organization.

Ask questions that are focused on the candidate’s experiences and stance on given matters. The latter will help you know exactly who they are and some of the things they believe in. Also, ensure that your questions reveal whether they are problem solvers or not, given that this is an important quality when it comes to startup employees.

9.      You Can Conduct Some Skill-based Assessment

This works best for technical or creative positions. Even though it is an optional step, we advise startups to consider it if they need highly qualified employees. This is done by giving the candidates a test project. You will get to see them in action and gauge their real-world skills against what they have on paper.


Startups must pay attention to their hiring process. They need the best candidates who can steer them to the next level. These tips should help you put up a team of competent employees for your next projects.