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Welcome to Recruiter Q&A, where we pose employment-related questions to the experts and share their answers! Have a question you’d like to ask? Leave it in the comments, and you might just see it in the next installment of Recruiter Q&A!

Today’s Question: Hiring is difficult for most organizations, but it can be especially challenging for startups. What are some common obstacles that entrepreneurs should be prepared to overcome when hiring employees for their startups?

The answers below are provided by members of FounderSociety, an invitation-only organization comprised of ambitious startup founders and business owners.


Coy1. Ensuring All Hires Understand Their Value

Everyone wants to believe that they provide value. In a startup environment, this need is even more pronounced as there are fewer employees and a shorter time period in which success will be measured. Ensure that every employee or partner understands how they are contributing to the success of the products, services, and overall health of the organization – before they are hired and on a regular basis.

Coy Yonce, Mantis Digital Arts

Lisa2. Hiring for the Long Term

The work responsibilities for startup employees regularly change. Make sure that you’re not hiring someone with a unique skill set only to fire them a few months later. Hire for fit – not the skills you happen to need at the time.

Lisa Curtis, Kuli Kuli

jeff3. Selling the Vision of Your Company

Having great employees in a startup environment is super critical because you’re building the foundation of the business. Getting these types of prospective employees to understand, see, and want to be part of your vision when you don’t have a lot behind you is the biggest challenge. If you’re honest, organized, excited, and have a clear roadmap for the startup, the right people will join.

Jeff Gapinski, Huemor

aaron4. Competing With Market Pay

Until you’re funded or have significant revenue, your startup likely can’t offer the same pay/benefits as a big company. But you can give people something else – a chance to make a difference. Every early employee plays a critical role in shaping the direction of the company. Pair that with a mission that people want to be part of and a nice bonus, and you can build an awesome team.

Aaron Sloup, Lantern

zac5. Determining the Individual ROI of Each Hire

Hiring is a complicated task in itself, but for startups, it’s even harder because there is less of a budget to work with. Each position within the company must be specific and have associated roles with it. This will help your organization have a better idea of who to hire, what they will contribute to the startup, and how much it’s going to cost.

Zac Johnson, Blogging.org

Dale6. Maintaining Culture

It’s very difficult to maintain the company culture you want – especially if you are trying to grow quickly. Hiring “rock stars” tends to destroy culture in a flash. Focus on personality and execution. Take the potential employee to lunch with the team they will work with. Make sure your employees are excited about the hire. If not, someone will be leaving soon.

Dale Beermann, Pacifica Labs Inc.

Brian7. Figuring Out What Position You Should Be Hiring For

There are two distinct reasons why businesses choose to hire. The first is in anticipation of the company’s growth. The second reason is to fill current gaps in products and services that you have right now. Regardless, there will always be unknowns as to why hiring for a position is right or wrong.

Brian Chiou, Enigma Systems LLC

steven8. Finding People Suited to a High-Pressure Environment

It’s difficult to find employees who are actually suited for the high-pressure atmosphere that often goes hand-in-hand with startups. Most people are looking for a cohesive schedule, concrete hours, and decent pay – without the chance that their business might suddenly tank. In order to work at a startup, an employee needs to thrive on challenge and embrace risk. That’s rarer than you’d expect.

Steven Buchwald, Buchwald & Associates

ben9. Getting Candidates to Buy In

You have to convince someone that your dream is good enough for them to bet their financial security on it. They will get less money and will often have to work far harder for something that could easily collapse. The payout could be amazing, but it’s getting people to buy in in the first place that’s difficult.

Ben Gamble, Quincus


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