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How to Hire HR for Your Startup

As a business grows, processes, policies, onboarding, and even conflicts arise in the office that require someone other than “the boss” for support. That’s where HR comes in. As a startup, hiring an HR team is a significant next step and you need to ensure your company is in the right place before you take the plunge. While companies like us at Pivot & Edge can assist your HR team and help fill in the gaps if you don’t have one in place, it’s important to get the right person in-house and onboard with your business! Here’s how to hire HR for your startup. 


1. Are you ready?   

The first step is to make sure your business is ready to take on another hire and that HR is the best use of your budget for your newest addition. There are a few reasons you might want to add an HR team to your roster, such as you… 

  • Are spending too much time on administrative tasks and not on growing your company 
  • Have more than ten employees and foresee rapid growth and more hiring
  • Are experiencing legal issues due to small things falling through the cracks 
  • Are ready to add structure to your company culture and seek consistency in your processes
  • Have conflict between employees or between yourself and your employees that requires a third party to help resolve
  • Have a strong foundation of HR practices and want to build on them
  • Have a sizeable remote team that needs a touch-point 

Your startup also needs to be financially ready to bring on another team member whose job is to manage team members — it’s always a fine balance. Remember, the hiring process costs money, as does the additional salary. The average HR manager makes about $70,000 a year. 

If your startup doesn’t require an entire team just yet, that’s an area where it makes sense to hire a company like ours as a solution-based role that fits your budget (yes, that was our shameless plug)! 


2. What should you look for?  

If you’ve decided you tick enough of the boxes above, then it’s time to think about hiring your own in-house HR team member. What exactly should you be looking for? Forbes has eight essential characteristics to look for in a startup’s first HR hire: 

  • A self-starter attitude 
  • Data analysis skills 
  • Leadership 
  • Good company culture fit 
  • Problem-solving skills 
  • Empathy and caring 
  • Decision-making skills 
  • Great communication 

Looking at the list, it’s easy to see why most of those characteristics are necessary for an HR role. Your HR person should care about their fellow employees. Empathy is crucial for understanding your team dynamics, where conflicts occur, and how to resolve them. At the same time, especially with a startup, your HR person needs to be flexible and innovative to help shape HR practices and overcome any unforeseen hurdles that may come their way. They also can’t be afraid to make big decisions with hiring and firing. Finally, as always, culture fit is an absolute must — we all know the stats by now: Around one-fifth of employees have quit their jobs due to the culture, but when it works, employees can experience a boost in productivity and fulfillment. Don’t be afraid to think about and put together a list of what fits best with the goals, vision, and values you’ve established for your startup so you can refer to it when interviewing.  


“In most cases, being a good boss means hiring talented people and then getting out of their way.” — Tina Fey 




3. How do you do it?   

Hiring your 10th, 11th, and 12th employee is just like hiring your first eight (although maybe not quite as exciting — or stressful). You need to make sure you bring the right person in so you can finally let go of spearheading the human resources department and get back to growing your startup. First, take those above characteristics and roll them into a candidate persona. This becomes a guide for what you’re looking for and what experience and characteristics you can make exceptions for. It will also help you steer your marketing and recruitment efforts. Speaking of which, HR is a diverse role, which means you can consider many different candidates. Here are five recruitment marketing hacks to help you out 

You’ll also want to be clear about what the role entails. With startups, your HR person will often be a lot more than someone to help resolve conflicts and perform onboarding — especially as the first HR member of the team. It’s new for both you and your hire! Carefully consider the job title, what the day-to-day will look like, and how much you’re willing (and able) to pay for the role. Then, put together an honest yet enticing job description. Knowing these details will also let you hone in on the type of candidate you want and the experience that will come in handy, further fleshing out your ideal hire.   

Asanify has put together a handy list of other hiring musts for HR. They also note that urgency can be an important factor in your hiring strategy. When do you need an HR team? Are you thinking ahead for your startup, or are you growing at a rate too fast to handle? This will help inform your recruitment budget and ability to hmm and hah over candidates and even wait for better options.  



Overwhelmed? The first HR hire is a big bite to take. However, if you get the right first person, you’ll never have to do the hiring part alone again! Once your startup is big enough, your HR person will be a huge relief and help you move forward the way you envisioned — without the hiccups and speed bumps from having too much on your plate. If you feel like you are missing some of the pieces of hiring for HR, don’t hesitate to reach out to our knowledgeable team or peruse our blogs for even more tips.  


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