Essential Guide to Startup Recruitment

The following is a guest post by Innovate UK, the British government’s innovation agency. They are focused on finding British businesses and entrepreneurs who can use new science and technology to drive economic growth.

Follow Innovate UK on Twitter: @innovateuk.

As a startup or a small/medium-sized enterprise (SME), recruitment can become the bane of your life. It’s not easy, it certainly isn’t cheap and it takes that precious commodity we call time. If you get it wrong, it can really bite you. If you get it right, it can be the difference between success and failure. Thankfully, there’s a little help on hand. Innovate UK’s essential guide to startup recruitment will give you all the assistance you need.

Be Honest About Affordability

“Growth is not just about profit; bigger budgets allow us to use skilled freelancers, increasing the quality of our output” – Graeme McGowan, Creative Partner at Jamhot.

Can you actually afford to take someone on? It’s a huge commitment, be sure your finances are where they should be. This is not always the best option for startups. If you need certain skills, consider using freelancers. More and more startups/SMEs are turning to freelancers. They can offer your business numerous benefits:

  • They allow you to tap into experience and expertise
  • You don’t have to put an additional person on the payroll
  • You can scale their involvement up or down to meet demand

Hire the Skills You Need

“Make key hires that can fill skill gaps and complement existing staff to help you reach the next level” – Zac Williams, Founder and Director of GradTouch.

When your business first expands, it’s tempting to hire people quickly. Do your best to resist this approach. Be sure to stop and consider where you need new talent. Explore where the strengths and weaknesses lie in your team. Are there any gaps which could be filled? Most startups are made in the image of their founder, can you grow and add fresh skills to the team?

Explore All Recruitment Channels

“Utilising specialist websites for your industry can give quicker access to appropriate skills” – Gary Cassey, MD of Cass Productions.

Now it’s time to find the ideal candidate. The approach you take will have an impact on who you attract (and how much you’ll pay). Recruitment agencies are great for managing the process, though they are often expensive for startups.

Job boards are an ideal option though be selective about which ones you use. The larger job boards are best suited to major corporations and may not be cost-effective. Consider looking towards the smaller, niche sites in your sector. These are far cheaper and will get your vacancy seen by relevant applicants.

Don’t neglect to utilise your LinkedIn network. Your ideal candidate could only be a connection away. Social media channels are another great way of getting your vacancies out there.

Scrutinise Your Applicants

“99% of being successful is about having the right attitude. Those people can learn new skills” – James Vizor, CEO or RULE Recruitment.

Before you bring anyone in, you need to decide what you’re looking for. Not just skills but personal traits too. These traits are less likely to change as your employee grows within your company. It can have a huge effect on the general morale of your team. If you’re stuck on what’s important to you, consider what other key players look for. For example, Sir Richard Branson looks for three major characteristics from all applicants:

  • People skills
  • Risk-taking and grit
  • Optimism

What message are you sending your applicants? Employer branding is hugely important in recruitment. This refers to the message you send to your applicant during the hiring process. It should be an accurate and attractive vision of working life at your company. How you communicate company culture will affect the type of applicants you see.

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