How to hire the best talent for your startup on a tight budget

What is one of the most important aspects of any startup? Some may say it is the business model, others may point out in the direction of cash flow management and revenue generation. In any case, it’s indisputable that the actual startup team, and the hiring of new employees, is one of the key aspects of a startup’s health and its expansion pace.

Overcoming obstacles and consolidating your product, and brand can always feel easier when your co-workers are people who are committed to the success of your startup. So how do you manage this, when you’re on a tight budget? When you’re planning your team expansion in 2021, here 10 points to consider, especially in industries where headcount means growth and adoption of your corporate culture.

1. Reduce interview related costs

In a selective process, you need to filter sometimes hundreds of CVs to end up with a group of ‘interview material’ candidates. In the times of the pandemic, interviewing in the office can be even more complicated and expensive than it used to be, due to social distancing restrictions that can increase candidate stress. Interviewing by video call is a cheaper way of doing the job and many of those apps are free, like Skype, Facetime, Whatsapp, or Zoom in their basic versions. You should also think about how many people’s time will be involved in the review process, and whether this can be cut down, or combined with other related tasks.

 2. Target highly focused, but undervalued, professionals

You do not need to have only university graduates in your company. People with some experience in some software or who have already developed some of the skills you’re looking for are usually good at taking challenges positively and solving unexpected issues in a pro-active manner.

3. Hire freelancers

Freelancer marketplaces, as competitve spaces, can help you find high quality professionals to manage the duration of a specific project, with the possibility of always hiring them in a permanent position longer-term. Software testing and programming, graphic design, accounting, marketing, sales, support – there are all kinds of experienced professionals with usually lower rates than your own local market.

4. Expose your brand and increase web visibility

People who are looking forward to working in your company have access to your website, your social media accounts and your team posts and articles online. They may have a sense of your startup culture before they ever set foot in your company for work. Communicating the values of your startup and publishing your vision for your market is a good way to attract interested professionals who might consider working for you. The message you are getting across on your online channels must be accurate as to your day-to-day and what you aspire to be as a startup. A sense of purpose can only help you connect with your future team members and employees.

5. Ask your co-founders and employees

When you have projects to deliver and a short time to find people with the right skills and energy for the job, you will regret not having an employee referral programme. In most of the companies I created or worked for, employee referral is a common practive. The clear advantage is that your employee already knows the person he/she is referring to the startup and this recommendation saves a lot of time and money in the whole process. Besides, studies say that a candidate referred by an employee is more prone to accept the job and is likely to stay longer, due to not being totally isolated in the beginning.

6. Have a full working plan for remote work

Working remotely at least part of the week is advantageous to employees who can spend more time with their families and who do not need lots of physical interaction with the team. Situations like the pandemic and the acceleration of digital transformation in 2020 have made startups and companies alike re-think their remote work plans and made them more flexible about it. With reduced commuting time and cost for the applicant, this could be more attractive for an employee and reduce salary costs.

7. Make your startup vision clear to reduce churn

Who are the candidates in your selection process that really believe in your vision and purpose? Employees who can see similarities between what you are doing and what they are doing or intend to, are the employees who will likely be more committed to the cause, stick around in periods of crisis and be less likely to leave, incurring another hiring process.

8. Look for part-time employees, whenever possible

Bringing a part-time employee to the company has the advantage of not having to land a full-time member in the team, and manage a full-time salary. One idea could be to target employees in other countries who have the right skills and could start remotely working for your company for a few hours per week, until both of you decide it is time for a full-time position.

9. Use your professional network to identify possible candidates, faster

Use your network to support you in your quest for the new employee. Spread the word that you are hiring and usually, your network will tell others about your hiring process and might even recommend a candidate. This could reduce the costs of hiring a recruitment agency, especially if all team members can publish about it online for their own networks to see. whether you’re on LinkedIn, XING, or another network, this will make the process smoother, easier, and cheaper.

10. Offer other job perks/benefits

Beyond a high salary, employees value other benefits when applying for a job. Offering experiences to your employees, such as workshops, webinars and language lessons in-house, team building activities, etc. There is no right or wrong in this case, it comes down to knowing what your team would appreciate more.

In summary, hiring and onboarding new employees can be time-consuming and represent a significant cost to the company. If you reach out through your personal and professional networks, consider part-time and remote options, carefully measure who is involved in the hiring process from your startup’s side, and make sure the chosen candidate is a good fit for the job and for your company culture, this will help you navigate the hiring process on a lower budget.

Bernardo Arnaud

Bernardo lives in Vienna and has been consulting and advising companies for 18 years in fintech, commodities trading, telecom assets management, messaging, jobs marketplaces, agribusiness, luxury, e-commerce, and SaaS. He founded a few companies throughout his entrepreneurial journey.

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