It’s always been believed that there are two crucial skills for startups, including:

  • Building a great product that has clear product/market fit.
  • Building sales and marketing machine.

Logically, it’s reasonable to see the two factors above as the cornerstone for any start up to survive. But the rate at which hiring crisis has been crippling startup’s abilities is so alarming that it can no longer be ignored.

There is an intense skills shortage created by the explosion in startups over the past few years. As demand has drastically outstripped supply.

Image result for reference when recruiting
Image credit: Robert Half

Yes, there is plenty of candidates out there. But as most can attest to, finding the right candidate is a huge challenge. I mean, the best people are almost never available as they are already taken.

Consideration of this eventually leading to seeing recruiting as been a key factor that needs attention. But unfortunately recruiting is not a skill that is typically taught in college.

The hardest part of recruiting is sourcing which implies finding candidates that possess the right skills and talent. This used to be a lot easier, using job postings, and external recruiters. Today, the chances of finding candidate who is not already working for another company is extremely low. So startups have to target passive candidates, and go through a sales process to first convince them to have a conversation, and then ultimately to leave their current jobs.

Without a doubt the richest source of new candidates are referrals from existing employees. Great talent hangs out with other great talent, and assuming your initial hires are outstanding, they will know others who are similarly talented and likely good cultural fits.

To aid all sourcing efforts and out compete the market, one of the most overlooked but an important aspect of recruiting is building a brand that attracts the best talent.

You should likewise start the hiring process with a clear idea of what you are looking for. There should be existence of a well structured job description in place for the vacancy. Without this, you may find your team wasting a lot of time in the hiring process trying to figure this out.

In addition to all this, a key part of the recruiting process is creating a structured interview process. This evaluates whether the candidate has the necessary skills and cultural fit to be a good hire. Few founders and managers have had any training on the best way to conduct an interview, and fail to ask the questions that get to the heart of whether a candidate possesses the key competencies.

Image result for referencing for startups
Image credit: Fast Company

Then the place of referencing and referencing checkout has been downplayed to its barest minimum. Reference checks are still critical to validating what you discovered during the interview process.

When hiring references are far more important than the interview. Those who are new to hiring can be tempted to cut short the reference checking after a good interview. Experienced recruiters know that is a huge mistake that can have costly repercussions.

Knowing how to conduct a reference call is another important skill that is not obvious without some training.

Sometimes references can be reluctant to tell you negative things. One way to get at weaknesses is to ask them to rank the candidate against the best person they’ve ever worked with in that role. If they are not the best person, ask them to tell you what things the candidate would have needed to improve to be the best.


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