Identifying and hiring the right talent is the most important decision for any startup. Hiring great talent not only transforms a startup, but helps them to reach their goals. Mistakes in hiring results in a startup’s cash burn and also affects the culture of the company largely. It is highly essential for a startup to have self motivated people to keep the environment charged and energetic all the time. Since life at a startup requires hard work and dedication at every step.
At iamwire, I am lucky to be surrounded by a group of talented people who are good at problem solving and decision making. From my personal experience and after reaching out to startup founders, given below is a list of 10 most significant challenges faced by a startup while hiring new talent.
1. Finding Natural Leaders
The biggest challenge in hiring for a startup is to find candidates who are natural leaders. Finding individuals who are proactive, problem solvers with a willingness to roll up their sleeves and get it done is essential for a startup business. Hence, finding natural leaders comes up as a major dilemma in hiring.
2. Lack of Self-Motivated Individuals
Read this one as the lack of enough ‘startup people’ in the market. A major challenge is finding a person with motivation to work in a startup. Skill comes later. Apart from the right skills set for any particular role, it is highly essential to gauge the motivation of the person — where is this motivation coming from and what are the associated expectations, both short and long term. In lack of motivation, a startup have to bear losses in its production.
3. Having a Cultural Fit
Applicants from traditional industries may not be used to the change and fast pace involved in a startup. It is important that a candidate knows what working at a startup means for their potential role. The real challenge comes into play when looking at how a potential hire will fit into the company as a whole. In many cases even when the candidate has the desired skills and experience but isn’t fit culturally in a particular startup, the decision makers go ahead with him/her any way. This involves making extra efforts to bring that person in sync with the organisation.
4. Reducing Time for Adjustment
It’s difficult to find experienced professionals from established companies, who can quickly align themselves with the way a startup operates. As a startup, it need people who are agile and can get things moving fast. Professionals who have not worked with a startup before have to undergo the process of adjusting and prove themselves.
5. Sufficient Maturity Level
In a startup, the expectations are that a new recruit would be able to execute their work independently and without much supervision. To make that happen each new joinee is given a clear view of the company’s roadmap and what is expected from him or her. But it’s challenging to find people who are mature enough to manage their work independently and can set the ball rolling from day one.
6. Time Shortage
The time gap between the decision to hire to actual hiring is short in a startup. Every open position needs to be staffed yesterday. Looking for the perfect candidate for the role could mean keeping the position open for too long and being a little too hasty could be damaging because in a startup bad hires hurt the business much more than in a mature company (where there are redundancies and support structures). Making the right trade off between speed and perfection is a constant challenge.
7. Need for Self-starters
A startup looks for self-starters – people who will take initiative themselves, find more work for themselves, self-sign up for more and more difficult projects, etc. These people don’t need to be assigned domains or given projects. They are naturally inclined to learn fast, take on difficult assignments, grow fast in their careers and in the process do tons of good work for us. Unfortunately, such people are < 2% in the world and it’s extremely hard to find them.
8. Right Assessment of Soft Skills
Post every candidate’s final round interviews, a startup gathers the interviewing team in a meeting room to making the hiring decision. Almost always a startup measure people on 4 things – attitude (to learn/grow/make things happen fast), existing skill set, maturity and communication skills. These 4 are required whether he/she will be in marketing or engineering or sales. While communication skills will have higher weight for some roles such as in Sales than for other departments; Attitude is always necessary for a person. Many a times, the company found the most amazing (in terms of skill, education and experience) mobile app developer or engineering manager or director sales but it said no to them simply because their Attitude was not right for their company.
This applies especially for companies operating in a niche space and needing special skill sets. Even if a new firm finds the right person who wants to work in a startup, there would be 5 other companies in that candidate’s pipeline. This leads to incentivising potential hires through higher packages, eSops, perks and so on.
10. Lack of Efficient Candidate Discovery Tools
Even with the presence of numerous recruitment portals, and even the upcoming off beat ones, searching and shortlisting desired candidates is a challenge. Job portals stack up startups with the bigger and known firms. Websites dedicated for startup recruitment are usually less known among the masses, leading to a gap in job seeker and employer discoverability.
If we missed out anything, please share your thoughts in the comments below. A special thanks to companies such as MobiKwik, BigBasket, PepperTap and CashKaro.com among others, for their inputs.