Thursday, October 27, 2011

How to hire for a start-up

Your start-up has finally got financed and, flush with money, it’s time to hire great employees. Now what? How do you know what makes a successful start-up employee? Many entrepreneurs realize quickly that they need a strong team, but finding talented people is a difficult process. Most likely, finding exceptionally talented employees becomes even more challenging as they rarely leave their current jobs for a start-up and are always in demand. Here are some rules that start-up founders offered on how to recognize a potential recruit may be great for your company :

1. They have worked for start-ups before. Applicants that have worked for start-ups are used to the chaos and speed of execution. They are self-managed and are used to working with little resources.

2. Have some small business experience. A small business is very different from a start-up where resources are more readily available. However, having small business experience is just as valuable as a start-up because they are used to having more responsibility and can work independently.

3. They work on side projects. People who work on side projects relevant to their careers or passions are ones you want. It's because they are willing to experiment and learn from hands-on experience.

4. Possible overseas experience. This would be an interesting point to consider for two reasons. Firstly, people who have worked overseas are more willing to take risks. And secondly, they are at ease working outside their comfort zone. Two qualities that an employee must have in working for a start-up.

5. Always hire for your company culture. As a small start-up, you may be fast paced, chaotic, no rules, work hard and stay up late. If someone who is used to a larger company and a structured environment, they will immediately leave within a few days. So, make sure that the person you're hiring can fit in your start-up seamlessly.

6. Look for problem solvers. In a start-up environment, there are very little resources. So, when there is a problem, an employee must find a solution, and fast! The right employee won’t run away from this challenge and won’t let go until it’s solved. It’s this attitude that you need to hire for.

7. If you’re a young start-up – hire smart generalists. This advice came from Dharmesh Shah, co-founder of Hubspot. A start-up in its early days should always hire “smart generalists”, those who can do everything and can pick up new skills as they go along.

8. Check references. Always ask the applicant for three or more references. Then pick up the phone and call them! References are the best way to determine whether a candidate would be a great fit for the company. And sometimes, you may find out new information that couldn’t be found during the interview.

There is nothing more frustrating than hiring an exceptional employee and realizing that they aren’t a good fit a month later. You not only lose time but also money – a valuable premium for any start-up.