How Startups Should Hire

Hiring needs to happen quickly when businesses are just getting started. And as a company grows, so does its staff. Hiring is always relevant, but the process can become somewhat less magical as a company gets older: That initial thrill of bringing someone new aboard can give way to looking at potential hires (and employees) as folks who fit into neat little boxes based on skill set. Necessary as operations expand? Perhaps, but remembering what you looked for in your startup days might help your business keep that pioneering spirit alive.

While experience is important, it can come in surprising packages. Titles and former employers do count, but competency, creativity and flexibility are worthwhile traits than can show themselves outside an office environment. Working abroad, volunteering and leadership roles in clubs and organizations are worth considering. Never underestimate the loyalty you can cultivate by giving someone their first chance.

A résumé or online profile will show skills, but it can’t divulge the attitude of a potential hire. In an interview, ask about more than just their professional life. Develop questions that will expose the characteristics you want in an employee: ability to multi-task, willingness to take risks and the patience to see projects through to completion.

The best way to keep your hiring process dynamic is to continually and proactively seek new talent. For larger businesses, hiring can become a passive event. They wait for talent to come to them. Startups don’t have that luxury; they have to snag the good ones whenever and wherever they might find them. The very people who can move things forward for a new business are usually on the lookout for opportunities where they are needed and can be challenged.

Lastly, passion is contagious. When leadership is involved in hiring, new hires understand why the business exists, not just what the business does. After all, who can articulate a company’s vision better than its founder? Establishing that connection and understanding from the start will result in an employee who is ready to dig in from day one. 

Lauren Knight landed in Chicago after four years abroad with stints in Japan, New Zealand and Australia. Having had her share of pounding the pavement, she found a place here helping others find jobs at, the service industry job community. She now heads up content and HR for the site and fills her free time with Chicago’s amazing dining, music and sports scenes.

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