Essential Tips for Recruiting the Right Team For Your Startup

It’s crucial for any business to get it right when hiring. The truth is, the effect of recruiting a low calibre or poor fitting candidate can be devastating to any company. This is felt especially hard by startups and SMEs. Recruitment is generally a costly and time-consuming process. Thankfully, Innovate UK have a few essential tips to help you recruit the right team.

Be Honest About Affordability

“Make key hires that can fill skill gaps and complement existing staff to help you reach the next level” – Zac Williams, Founder, and Director of GradTouch.

Just because there’s a need for a specific skillset in your business, it doesn’t mean you have to hire a full time member. A full-time employee is a huge commitment. Think about what you can honestly afford.

Sometimes, freelance can be the best option. Many startups and small businesses outsource certain business requirements. There’s a number of reasons why this is increasing in popularity:

  • It allows businesses to use someone with expertise and experience
  • It allows businesses to make the most of talent without any long-term commitment
  • It allows businesses to alter the workload to complement their current state of business

If you’re considering looking towards freelancers instead of a new hire, you’re not alone. A recent survey by staffing platform PeoplePerHour has found that nearly 70% of European SMEs are looking towards freelance talent to fulfil skill gaps in their business.

Hire the Skills You Need

“Growth is no just about profit; bigger budgets allow us to use skilled freelancers, increasing the quality of our output” – Graeme Mc Gowan, Creative Partner at Jamhot.

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Don’t rush to hire new people quickly when you enter a period of rapid growth. You want to be sure you’re bringing in the right people. This is important not only for your team but for your potential hire too. Are you the right fit for them? Can you offer the challenges, career path and job satisfaction they want from their next move?

What are the strengths and weaknesses of your current team? Is there anywhere you need some more expertise? Usually, small businesses are built around the skill set of their owners.

If your company is to grow, you need to bring in skills that complement your current team. Look at what you need to take the next step. For example, if you’re a tech startup which lacks any strong business development capabilities, this is something that needs to be resolved.

recruiting the right team for your startup

When employing people, there are many rules and regulations that you must follow. Be sure to check sites like to ensure you’re following the right procedures. Don’t cut corners here, it could come back to bite you.

Explore All Recruitment Options

Recruitment Options for Startups

“Utilising specialist websites for your industry can give quicker access to appropriate skills” – Gary Cassey, MD of Cass Productions.

Where are you going to find the ideal candidate? There are many worthy options to consider. Recruitment agencies are normally the first consideration to make. They can make the process far easier but they do come with fees which often put them out the reach of startups.

The major job boards are also worth looking at though these are usually better suited for larger companies. Start seeking out the smaller, niche job boards. These usually cost less and will get a relevant audience looking at your ad.

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Try reaching out to your LinkedIn network. You may only be a connection away from your dream candidate. Other social media platforms are also great for recruiting on a budget.

Social recruiting is a genuinely effective technique used by consultants to track down candidates. Take a leap of faith and start using social media to seek out talent.

Customers are another vital place to seek new hires. If they already buy from you, they understand what you’re all about. There could be an ideal candidate already out there using your service. Try sending an email to your customer database about your vacancies.

Don’t forget about your current team. Is there anyone in your business willing and capable of being promoted? Promoting from within can be worth the cost of developing a current employee’s skillset.

Scrutinise Your Applicants

hiring the right candidate for your startup

“99% of being successful is about having the right attitude. Those people can learn new skills” – James Vizor, CEO of Rule Recruitment.

There’s plenty of guides out there on how to perfect the hiring process. It is worthwhile reading up on the best way to shortlist candidates, interpret CVs and conduct interviews.

Before you put any of this into practice, you need to decide who you actually want working for you. What characteristics do you seek from the ideal candidate?

A great way to understand what you want from an applicant is to explore what other companies are looking for. Look towards other brands in your industry and see what their ideal candidate profile is. For example, Richard Branson explains that he wants three main traits from his applicants:

  • People skills – the ability to work well with others
  • Risk taking and grit – a person who isn’t afraid of failure that is also determined to succeed
  • Optimism – someone who sees the best in others and the best in their current situation
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So now you’ve got the profile of the ideal candidate, what about you? Is your hiring process portraying an accurate insight into your company? Employer branding is becoming a hot topic in the recruitment industry – and rightly so! This term refers to the type of company you are presenting to candidates.

People want to know about the culture, values, and ethics of your brand. When you recruit, be sure to give and accurate and insightful image of what life at your company is actually like.

Even though, recruiting can be very hard, by taking a step back from the traditional processes and applying a tailor-made approach to recruiting, your startup or SME can find the perfect candidate without excessive time, money or stress.

This post is written by the Innovate UK and if you’ve found these tips helpful, there are plenty of other handy videos for startups and SMEs on Innovate UK’s YouTube channel. You can also follow @InnovateUK on Twitter here.

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