How to hire like a startup
I recently read a very good post by a good acquaintance of mine, Roger Norton. Roger works with startups all the time and posted what he feels they do: they are small autonomous teams that work in conditions of extreme uncertainty, searching for a repeatable scalable business model by being laser focused on the value that they provide to their customers. I really like this description.
And, when you think about it, this is how small divisions and teams in large companies should work. They may be under the impression that they are safe and secure until the next startup innovates and iterates out a product that kills their business model. And so it should be with your recruitment. If you are simply rehashing an old recipe using the same processes and platforms, you are going to get overtaken by those who are trying new things and finding better methods of getting the right talent on board.
Here are some of the things startups do when hiring.
It won’t work without ticking all the boxes
Startups can’t tempt fate by hiring key individuals incorrectly. They simply have to find someone who can do all the things they need to get the product out and formalise their business model.
Every position is key
As a startup grows, it starts to see parts of its few employees’ jobs become too much for them to manage. The “CEO” who is stretched across sales, marketing, raising capital and recruitment may find that he or she cannot cope with the sales function alone and need a new employee to handle sales exclusively. But will that person do at least as good a job as the current person, if not a better job? This is very important, especially in the early days of a new company that is iterating through versions of its offering to find one that works best.
Again, startups can’t afford to hire their highest or lowest, most or least experienced person poorly. If they do, their accounting records may be incorrect, or their content on their website may contain spelling mistakes, or worse, they may undergo costs that cripple them, such as legal fees. This is because hiring the wrong staff is expensive.
The cost of hiring the wrong person
This post is discussed in more detail in an upcoming article, but the gist is clear: making a bad hire costs your company oodles of time, money and potentially sours the feelings of employees at a new company. Not to mention recruitment fees, the cost of having no-one in the position,
Therefore, these costs are increased in a startup, because the amount of people working there is fewer. However, in large organisations, this does not in fact decrease, since each employee only works with about 10-20 others, no matter what the size of the firm.
Startups focus on solving a problem with solutions that people will pay for and in that way create value. Recruiting for a big company doesn’t mean all teams are the same. Recruiters should best sit with their client companies and speak to the exact team that they are recruiting for, not just the HR representative. Once the problem has been defined, you can work towards finding a way to solve it.
Then, when you need to hire similar skills or fill the same position again, don’t attack the problem the same way each time. Look for new methods of reach and ways to handle process management. Many a time, for example, I’ve spoken to a company that still advertises in certain magazines at quite a cost, as they believe that is what the right talent reads. But by headhunting, they could forego the adverts and speak directly to excellent skills at the cost of a phone call.
If you work in a large company and start to hire like a startup instead of working towards metrics like “Number of hires in July”, you’ll soon see the difference in the quality of employee in your firm.