Working at a startup can be a fun and challenging experience. Nothing stands still for long. This can make hiring a challenge. In today’s changing world where there’s a lot of unpredictability in the workforce, the economy, and markets around the globe, having a strategic game plan for hiring — and recruiting — is even more important. Below are 6 key ways that a startup can hire for growth:
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1. Hire for a growth mindset and fit for values
When you’re on a path for rapid growth, making sure you’re building a team that aligns with your core values and is excited about contributing to the company’s growth is critical. You may be tempted to hire only people with startup experience in the early stages, yet this strategy could mean that you’re missing out on talented candidates that could change the trajectory of your business.
When considering both recruiting strategy and hiring decisions, how will you determine fit for values and a growth mindset? In order to hire for growth, you must first define what you’re about as a company and who you want to be. Then, develop the recruiting strategy as well as interviewing and screening processes to hire to these priorities.
2. Hire people who can take on future duties you can anticipate
The plan for your startup may include growth related to expansion into new services, products, markets, and/or industries. This provides a great roadmap for looking at hiring now in anticipation of future needs. When you’re making a hire for a customer support lead, for example, are you hiring someone with experience needed for today as well as some background in future expansion areas? Similarly, does the person you hire next for marketing have experience in the industries or offerings you plan to add as well? Looking at roles from this strategic viewpoint can make a big difference in your startup’s critical growth stages.
3. Use projected sales growth to anticipate what’s ahead
Workforce planning is partly based on growth projections. If you are projecting the addition of new clients and expansion of services for existing ones, you can plan and hire for growth in key areas. Remember that the additional workload extends beyond those that are typically top of mind, like support and account management. Planning helps leaders and HR teams to anticipate increased or new duties in other areas like accounting and HR that are related to this growth. With that in mind, you can begin to recruit and build candidate pipelines that also include individuals who may shift or expand duties to cover these potential future needs.
4. Hire with room for individual development
Many employees interested in working for startups are looking for the opportunity to grow while contributing at this type of venture. Their satisfaction — and continued engagement — often can come down to whether or not they are learning, growing, and feel challenged in their roles as time goes on. Hiring team members who have some capabilities and interest in professional development can equip you with the right people to take on more in the future.
5. Plan for cross-over of skills
Just as one hire can have a positive or negative effect on a growing company, so can turnover. It’s just good business to cross-train and develop your team, especially in the high growth stages of a startup. So, hiring people who show an aptitude and interest in learning new areas, or have some experience in other functions, will help you plan ahead and cross-train accordingly.
6. Hire future leaders
As you grow, you have a choice. You can hire leaders from outside the firm, develop leaders from the inside, or a combination of the two. Doing only the former can result in a culture shift or serve as a demotivator for your team that doesn’t serve you; doing only the latter can mean you’re missing out on strengths from experience that are vital for your startup’s success. We suggest a blended strategy — and taking steps to hire people who you believe could be future leaders.
You can incorporate assessments into your hiring process and ask questions in interviews to assess candidates’ leadership potential. Yet, there are hidden indicators of future potential. For example, has the candidate excelled in leadership roles in non-work settings (e.g. school, community organizations)? Or have they demonstrated leadership in past roles prior to their last position or two? Does the person show natural leadership? For instance, do they take on duties that bring people together contributing to a goal of influencing others towards success?
Hiring candidates that you believe could be future leaders is an important part of the mix. And, creating opportunities for the development of those skills and mentoring will help create your future dream team. A great foundation for identifying and hiring future leaders is by creating and implementing a recruitment plan.
Check out our new whitepaper The New Startup Scalability Superpower: Recruiting Innovation for more tips. It includes 7 major trends, myths and steps to scaling talent acquisition that can make a difference in your growth! Download your copy here.
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