Finding your team

In my last blog I wrote about the importance of having the right culture in business, be this an early stage or FTSE 100/ Fortune 500 company. In this post I am focusing towards startups and am going to look at how finding the right people for your early team is crucial, but it can be extremely difficult.

Not only do you have to find candidates capable of building something from scratch and getting along in your new company culture, but the candidates must also fit into a (often) limited budget. Most startups need at least a couple of people to get off the ground, but finding those hires in the early stages of development is a challenge.

However, if you look in the right places, the whole process becomes much easier. Here are some useful (I hope!) pointers:

1. Job sites
Depending on what you’re looking for, posting on a small network of job sites can open you up to dozens of potential applicants. Be as specific as possible in your description and requirements to filter out the majority of job site browsers from the get go.

2. Networking events
Professional networking events are where people who want to meet people meet other people who want to meet people. Some are looking for investors or clients, but some are looking for new jobs or business partners. Also networking events with other founders can be a great help as they can flag up people they know/ people they have worked with to you. I have seen this happen time and again within the IoD 99 community.

3. Volunteering
Volunteer events are great opportunities to meet startup candidates. Chances are, the people you meet through volunteering don’t hold money as their top priority. Instead, they might be eager to work towards a specific cause on a lower budget. They might also be connected in the community around the cause the volunteering is for.

4. Social media.
There are many ways to use social media to find viable candidates. You can look among your own connections or ask them if they could recommend suitable candidates for you. Social media profiles serve as modern-day resumes, so use that transparency to your advantage in this search. Use platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and even Instagram. LinkedIn can be great but, a word of warning, be very targeted/ clear in who you are after/ what the role is!

5. College career fairs
Recent college or university graduates tend to be passionate, energetic and affordable candidates in the job pool – making them perfect fits for startups. Go to a fair or contact relevant colleges and universities to see how you can get in touch with possible candidates.

6. Industry sites and forums
If your startup belongs to a specific niche or industry, check out websites, blogs and forums pertaining to that industry. See if anyone in your area is looking for a change in employment.

7. Internal connections
Just as with social media connections, leverage the power of your own current personal network to find candidates. Tell everyone you know what you’re looking for, including your friends, family and former coworkers.

8. Anywhere else you go
Get in the habit of talking to people. You never know when a casual conversation might lead to a meaningful opportunity or a significant introduction.

9. Negotiate
Finally, if you decide to use a recruitment agency, pick one with a track record for what you are looking for, bigger isn’t always better. Never just take the rate offered, always push for a lower price. Ask fellow founders for recruitment agencies they have used and would recommend.

Your core team members will be the ones helping you to make your startup a success – or a flop – so take your time to find the right candidates for the environment you want to build.

Try to think a little bit ahead, as well. Make some space for your business to grow in the processes you set up from the start. Planning a bit a head and being prepared is always a good way to go.

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