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Hiring Mistakes Every Startup Do And How To Avoid Them
6184|December 27, 2019|by Kyra Chawla
When you start on an entrepreneurial journey you really want to get a team together and start delivering. Soon, you may realize it isn’t easy as you had thought. Hiring for startups is very tough. Eventually, you will hire a few guys for your company. However, many founders soon realize the mistakes they might have made while hiring. You could use some of the best startup hiring strategies, however, you may still make a few hiring mistakes. Below is a list of few unique hiring mistakes startups do; even the best startups commit such hiring mistakes. Hiring For Skills That You Don’t Understand Well This is one of the most common and critical hiring mistake startups do. In early days founders often wear multiple hats. They perform multiple roles. Eventually, they realize they need to hire someone to free up their own time. For example, today, most of the startups have tech founders. When it comes to marketing it is not their area of expertise. Hence, they decide to hire a marketing guy who could take care of marketing activities. The thing that usually goes wrong is that the founders may not understand the kind of marketing guy their business needs. Or rather the kind of marketing their startup needs. It is B2B vs B2C, services vs products, different geographies have different cultures and need different strategies. Things like understanding the kind of marketing channels that would do best for their startups. These areas need prior experience and expertise. Founders generally do not have a grasp on various aspects of marketing. Their knowledge may be limited unless they willingly make it their area of work. In most cases what they do is rush into hiring the guy for such functions and realize later that they made a hiring mistake. It may not be the employee they hired but it could be their lack of understanding of the required role. Such a hiring mistake turns out really expensive as a startup has to work on a tight budget. Hiring Because You Are Stuck Sometimes you want to hire someone because you are stuck; you are facing various challenges and you do not know how to overcome such challenges. You assume that someone with subject matter expertise will ease your miseries. In such scenarios, without understanding the nature of the problems, the founders tend to think they need to hire someone with subject-matter expertise. This is one of the classic hiring mistakes startups do. Yes, you would need the subject matter expert. However, you need to first understand the kind of problems you have. There is no doubt eventually you need a team of experts. However, some time out of fear of losing time startups ends up hiring people without necessary qualifications. Hiring Someone Who Is Not Meant For Startup Life A startup runs a very different environment when compared to growing or large companies. It’s a very dynamic environment. Things are always changing. You may find processes missing in a startup culture. You won’t find documented strategies. For a startup to succeed it continuously needs to innovate, collaborate, choose between extreme options, etc. Everyone has to stretch on most days to pull it off, to turn things around! Also, the risk element in any startup is very high. Sometimes you would think you just cracked the deal and then it may just fall apart at the very last moment. The risk is also the fun part. However, not everyone enjoys such uncertainty. You may hire a rockstar from a top company but would he or she adapt to the startup culture? maybe not. This is very true for senior positions in the team unless candidates are coming with a startup background. If you find a good candidate give him or her a free trial in the office for a couple of days. Let the candidate feel the culture. And then observe the candidate. It’s a win-win situation for a startup and a candidate which could yield a good result. Hiring In A Rush One of the hiring mistakes startups often do is rush through the hiring process. It is extremely difficult for startups to hire top talent. Another reason is they are on an uphill journey. They need to achieve or complete many tasks in a quick time. As a result, the moment they meet someone who is somewhat good they just want to hire that person. In the process, they often end up hiring a person who is below par. Such hiring mistakes are common with funded startups. Considering Interns As Your Full-Time Employees Interns are a big part of startup culture. A lot of startups hire interns for 2-3 months to get a more helping hand. The mistake startups do while hiring interns is they assume that interns can deliver just like full time experienced employees. Also, sometimes founders think they can skip or postpone hiring an experienced employee and get the work done with the interns around. Many founders think that the interns could be on autopilot and would deliver on their own. You might be hiring top students from top colleges however in most cases they need more than helping hand. They need guidance. For example, startups may hire interns for tasks like cold calling, cold emailing. But they need to be guided on whom to call, how to find a potential lead, how to build a persona of the potential customer otherwise you would lose important time with no real outcomes. Another example, if startups are hiring developers they hire them for building a small module within the product or applications they are building. However, one small design glitch can be very expensive in terms of money and time. The interns are great! They bring new ideas and new energy to your team. However, they should be working under the guidance of experts and they should not be responsible for full-time work. Hiring Many Full-Time Employees Often, when startups are looking for a resource they think about hiring a full-time employee. Having a team together working out of the same location is really good, especially for startups. However, it also comes at a cost. Hiring many full-time employees is often the case with a funded startup. When you hire a full-time employee, you are also bearing additional expenses such as infrastructure cost, travel allowance, insurances, etc. other than salary. Also, in initial years startups have to experiment with their business models, their product roadmaps to acquire more and more business. This also means that a startup may have to let go of their existing people. This happens with many startups. In such situations, it gets difficult to make decisions especially when you have employees working. A good alternative could be hiring a remote employee or maybe a freelancer. This way you get flexibility in maintaining your team size. It will also save additional expenses such as infrastructure cost, insurance cost, etc. that you may have to pay if you hire an employee. Hiring Yourself – Leave It To The Experts. Hire a Recruitment Agency We already know that it is hard to hire for startups and a few of the important reasons are lack of network, limited resources. Sometimes, it is best to leave it to the experts. If you onboard a leading executive search firm what you get is a professional help who would have a good connection in the candidate market. A recruitment agency will have a dedicated team that would reach out to potential candidates and helps you hire faster. And the good part is that you don’t have to pay them upfront. When you hire a candidate through a recruitment agency you get to see how the candidate works for you. If the candidate completes the probation period then only you need to pay your fees to a recruitment agency. Startups Do Not Focus On Candidate Experience Startups leverage social platforms to a good extent. They put messages, flyers, ads on social media. However, when candidates visit their job postings page it leaves them with more questions. The company career page should give insight into the company’s vision or have mentioned any recent achievements especially when it’s a startup. If you expect good candidates to apply for jobs at your startup then you need to start building a brand name for your startup. And the career page is the most important page when you are hiring for your startup. Your job application should be mobile phone friendly. It should be quick and simple. Many startups put a simple email address for receiving resumes of candidates. The general perception about sending resumes over email is that the resume gets lost and candidates would never hear from the companies. Hence many candidates may not even apply for the job. If you are using google analytics, it will show a higher bounce rate on your career page. It is very important that you take the candidate experience seriously. Invest in simple solutions like online recruitment software to improve the candidate experience and your hiring process. These are mostly SAAS based software and would barely cost you anything. Summary Startups have limited means. Startups cannot afford many mistakes. People that you hire can make or break your startup. Sometimes, a bad hiring decision could push you to a corner from where the comeback could be difficult. You should be extra vigilant while hiring for your startup in its early days. Avoid hiring in rush or hiring for roles that you are not expert at. Take professional help from recruitment agencies to reach potential candidates. Use organic mediums like company career page, social media platforms for brand building. Invest in recruitment technologies for better candidate experience and for an efficient hiring process. Basically, use the right recruitment strategies and tools to ease your hiring efforts because hiring for a startup is going to be one of the toughest jobs you are going to take on in your entrepreneurial journey.
Director and Founder Kyra has led hundreds of human resource management projects for Alliance International. She directs the manpower consultancy and talent solutions teams and offers expert advice to management teams of organizations across sectors.
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