Talent acquisition is a top priority for hiring managers and founders – one that often keeps them awake at night. What happens if you make a bad hire? You lose revenue, time, and more, and the first two alone can be deadly to a young organization. While many startups often don’t think of setting up a hiring framework, you need to do so today. Hiring people onto your team is one of the most impactful things you can do and can lead to a deeply rewarding relationship for you, your company, and the contributor.
But without philosophy and framework with which to repeatedly execute your search, results can feel random, with no rhyme or reasons to hits or misses. We aim to help you rectify that.
Overhiring and underhiring
Fast-growing startups need to be more strategic when it comes to hiring. But oftentimes, due to the rate at which startups are scaling, processes like a hiring framework end up getting overlooked or rushed. That can lead to opening up positions without due consideration for whether they’re actually needed (overhiring).
The opposite is a bad thing, too – being overcautious about hiring can lead to not hiring when you could actually use more people on your team. Underhiring can create burnout if your current team members are doing too much. Plus, you may be sacrificing results by having them work in an area where they are less familiar or untrained in. In this case, hiring someone specifically for that role and set of responsibilities could provide good ROI for your organization.
Avoiding over- and underhiring
To avoid these phenomena, keep a few questions in mind when you’re thinking about hiring (or not).
- First, define what a new hire would achieve in 3, 6, or 12 months–or a timeframe applicable to your industry.
- Next, ask Do we have enough work for them? You can call in your team for input here: do they feel at capacity? Or do they think a new skill set would benefit the company?
- Can this work be divided among our current staff? And, if it has been, could it be completed better if a new person took over its performance?
- What will this new hire do all day? Think details, day-to-day specifics. What are they actually going to do to fill 40 hours a week?
- Should we be hiring high-level leaders? Depending on what you need, it may be better to hire an experienced, multi-disciplinary professional – “smarter, not harder” rings true here.
- And finally, will someone new slow us down? Smaller companies tend to be more agile, working at a faster pace and staying in closer touch with their customers. If you hire too many people, you risk losing this edge.
Building the framework
Chris Winn, CTO of Creative Market, suggests the following tactical and philosophical components to help you construct a hiring framework.
1) Assess your values
Start by clearly defining your company’s core values. Every candidate who comes through the door should fit squarely into those values. By defining these, you give yourself a guiding star to think strategically about who you hire. Your company’s values will help you wade through the information you receive about each candidate.
2) Know what you need
Here you’re not just thinking about what the company and team need – be selfish. You’ll be managing them. What do you need from the new hire? Do you want collaboration? Are you an expert who can foster a mentorship culture – or do you need a group of self-starters? Hire people you’re excited to work with every day. That means figuring out what you want out of them.
3) Define the role
Why are you hiring them? What are their day-to-day responsibilities going to be? Who will they work and interact with, and how will that impact results? Think and speak directly about what they’ll be signing up for with your organization.
4) Align your skills assessment
Set up your skills assessment to reflect the real-world tasks of the job. Chris Winn values “collaboration, a humble approach to improvement, and an eagerness for quality and speed” from the developers he hires. As a result, he has all candidates perform their coding test over Slack and video – a multifaceted approach that helps test these real-world skills.
5) Create a model
Visualize and list the traits of what a good hire is to you, through the lens of your organization’s core values. Take the time to look at the traits that your past best and worst hires possessed. The second part is just as important as the first: what traits did the people who didn’t work out at your company have? What mistakes have you made in hiring in the past?
For example, you may have hired people who lacked the appropriate skills or hired for a role that wasn’t in the organization’s best interest. Or, some hires may have not fit into your company’s values.
Work on your pitch
You represent your company, so take the time to craft a concise, accurate, and honest pitch for promising candidates. Focus on the themes that convey your organization’s best qualities most clearly.
Don’t skimp on tools
There are a lot of tools out there to help the hiring process – use them. For example, there are Artificial Intelligence tools that can help with screening, communicating (via high-tech chatbots) and more.
Craft a relationship
It’s important to remember that, no matter which candidate you end up hiring, your relationship with them starts on that first phone call. So once you settle in on them – talk to them. Calls, coffee, video chat, walks, whatever you feel is right.
Take plenty of notes, too, so that you’ll have information to help you manage them moving forward.
While speed is a necessity in a startup environment, you still need to establish a repeatable framework that you can use to hire great people, time after time. Since yesterday is too late, get started on it today.
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