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Hiring For Your Startup? The 4 Questions You Need to Ask First

Resources are tight and the competition for talent is fierce. Ensure your startup is ready to hire by asking these four questions. 

Hiring for your Startup

One of the biggest challenges a startup can face is scaling up. Along with determining the right time to hire, it can be extremely difficult to find the right people to hire. Here are the four questions your startup needs to be able to answer before setting up the first interview: 

1. What is the problem you’re trying to solve? Can it be outsourced? 

Before you hit publish on your first job posting, you should have a good understanding of the following: what is the problem you’re trying to solve? Is it temporary? Get specific about the roles you’re looking to hire for—how will they fit into the overall solution? If you’re not quite liquid enough to fully onboard permanent team members, you may need to consider outsourcing the job.  

As a general rule of thumb, work that’s essential to your core business should be completed in-house. For roles that are not at the center of your business, you can outsource the job to third-party consultants or contractors. You should only be bringing these services in-house with full-time roles when your business grows accordingly. While outsourcing needs vary company to company, you can outsource anything from: accountants, web designers, legal advisors, content writers, payroll experts, human resources and administrative workers.  

If you’re a C-level or founder, it is likely some of the tasks above are still on your plate—and we get it! Delegating is one of the most challenging tasks for startup owners and C-levels to do, but it is essential for growth. On average startup owners spend 40 percent of their working hours performing tasks that do not generate income (hiring, HR tasks and payroll), according to Entrepreneur. In order to grow your startup, you’ll need to take the risk and hand off some of these responsibilities—but when you’re in startup life, risk should be expected. 

Now, if you’ve determined you’re looking to hire for an essential role and that role is a clear solution to a problem your startup is facing, we invite you to continue reading. 

2. Is your startup prepared to take a hit? 

Before you hire, have a good understanding on whether your startup is ready to lose a little in order to gain. Many C-levels just new to startup life are surprised to learn the true cost of hiring a new team member (and it’s a lot more than the new hire’s salary).  

Along with training, administration work and legal fees, integrating a new employee into the organization can take months. In fact, it can take up to 6 months for a company to break even on its investment in a new hire. And so far, we’re only talking about the investment once you’ve found the right candidate.  

On average it takes 6 months to hire for a startup however, working with a team like Pivot + Edge who can help offload some of labour intensive part of the hiring process and sift through resumes, complete preliminary screening calls and ensure you’re only talking to highly qualified, vetted candidates, your time to hire can be shortened to less than 4 months if not even more. Our fixed pricing and proprietary software, beap™ combined with our unique Inside-Out Strategy — a full fractional hiring team and trusted recruitment infrastructure, ensures the entire hiring process, from employer branding to onboarding, is smart, simple and scalable for your startup.  

And unlike traditional recruiting agencies that take up to 30 percent of annual salary and use outdated strategies such as headhunting, we cut the bullsh*t and utilize our secret sauce to hire the right people faster within your budget.  

Take the time to hire smart because if you hire the wrong person, expect your investment to increase exponentially. 

3. What is your startup’s company culture? Who does well at your startup? 

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it until we are blue in the face: company culture is not a fluff phrase. Not only do 23 percent of startups fail due to team issues, but startup teams with low levels of passion and shared vision are overall weaker, according to the Harvard Business Review 

When a candidate sees your job posting or careers page, they should have a strong (and clear) understanding of what it is like to work at your company—this means being transparent and not afraid to deter the wrong people from applying. If you’re looking to revamp (or build) your careers page, click here for four mistakes to avoid.  

Many people associate company culture with perks and standard benefits, but the truth is you’re not the only startup with a gym allowance or a ping pong table. Company culture really comes down to people. When building out your company’s digital presence, look to answer the questions candidates want to know about your startup. 

At Pivot + Edge, we help startups discover their company culture every single week. Although you have input as a C-level or startup founder, culture really comes from the team. In our employer branding audit, we speak to a range of team members to pull out the key differentiators that will help your startup win top talent. Our biggest advice to startups building their employer brand is do not sugarcoat anything 

For example, if you are a remote-first company that will also play into your startup’s company culture. Some candidates will see your startup being a remote company as a positive, and others will see it as a negative. The most important thing whether your startup is fully in office, hybrid or remote, is to be clear about expectations. If you’re still undecided click here to see what other tech startups are doing post pandemic.  

While appealing to a wide pool of candidates may seem great in the short-term, attracting the wrong people for your company will devour your resources and ultimately, leave your startup in a worse place. 

Speaking of, let’s talk about the people who don’t think your startup is the best place to work… 

4. Are you hiring because someone left the company? Why didn’t it work out? 

Now it’s time for the tough questions. Before you assume that the last person “just wasn’t the right fit,” it is a good idea to reflect internally and, depending on the nature of the exit, ask for feedback.  

If you’re beginning to see a trend in team members leaving your startup, it is likely you, not them. Your startup is either: 1) Not living up to expectations it is presenting or 2) Hiring the wrong people. Luckily, both of these issues have the same solution: smart employer branding.  

Each Glassdoor review (for tips on how to respond to negative reviews, click here) or declined offer is an opportunity for your startup to get a better understanding of what it truly takes to be successful at your company. Use this knowledge to hire smarter the next time around and reduce employee turnover. 

The Bottom Line 

When preparing to hire for your startup, think about what candidates want to know about your startup and reverse engineer to answer the questions yourself. If you are unable to answer the above questions, it is best to spend some time to really digging deep internally to avoid wasting resources on the wrong hire. At Pivot + Edge, we help startups do just that every day. If you are ready to scale your startup with the right people and stop wasting resources, contact our team today. 


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