Category Archives: Startups

3 Things to Consider Before You Hire

3 Things to Consider Before You Hire

Hiring is a big decision. Whether it’s your first hire or your fiftieth, the process rarely gets easier.

Knowing when to hire is the first step in getting recruitment right. Budgets, workload, and growth goals have to align to welcome a new team member full-time, but missing one of the three can lead to layoffs and burned bridges.

Below are three ways to tell if it’s a good time to bring on a new team member or if a short-term fix is needed.

Planning workload

Before even considering a hire, founders and leads need to think about a new employee’s role and what responsibilities they would have at the company. Asking the right questions at the start can help teams decide if a contractor or freelancer is a better fit. Here are just a few examples:

    • How much overtime do current full-time employees clock?
    • Does the task lie within the startup’s core competency?
    • How time sensitive is the task?
    • After this task is completed, what will the hire do?

These questions will quickly reveal if a startup just needs an extra pair of hands for now or if they’re ready to welcome someone over the long-term. It’s best that full-time hires are brought on because your current team is working loads of overtime or because you need help with a long-term project.

Freelancers tend to be best for specific, time-sensitive jobs that sit outside of the startup’s core product or structure. Bringing on a contractor fills needs for a longer time period at a set weekly or monthly rate. Both freelancers and contractors are great for side projects that don’t necessarily affect the organization’s core competency, but probably shouldn’t be brought on to build new products.

Money Matters

Figuring out how much to spend on a new hire is just one component of a complex process. While full-time employees receive a fixed salary there are also benefits, medical, and vacation or sick days to consider. Before writing a job description, make sure a new hire fits within your financial goals over the next few years.

On the other hand, freelancers come with fewer stipulations but higher hourly rates. Contractors might offer lower rates than freelancers in exchange for consistent work for a set period of time.

Keep in mind that the billable hours needed to get freelancers or contractors up to speed are basically lost time and money once that person moves on. Staying on the same page is also difficult, even with weakly check-ins and daily communication. And it will be harder to negotiate a lower rate in exchange for equity with these folks, unlike full-time hires.

If you’re still on the fence, Toptal has an excellent salaried hire vs. freelance rate calculator.

Growth

Hiring is the best signal to the outside world that a startup is thriving and growing financially.

But keep in mind that your prospects and continued growth hinge on hiring decisions made throughout the company’s life. That initial $500,000 of venture capital isn’t necessarily a sign to scale up. Often, it’s a way of testing whether a startup and its management are capable of guiding an organization’s growth.

Don’t feel like you need to grow simply because money is coming in from sales or investment. Set long-term goals and benchmarks with engineering and product leads to see if and when an extra staff member will be needed. Then, check in with sales to make sure you have the cash to support them over a long period of time.

Hiring is a sign of a thriving startup. Firing and layoffs spell doom to investors.

Hiring is a Big Step

Hiring is a magical opportunity for companies. It’s awesome to know that people want to contribute to your idea, and that you’re helping people feed their families and plan for their futures. But making a full-time hire is a huge responsibility that shouldn’t be taken lightly.

Before bringing someone on, think about your plans for the role and other ways you could complete planned tasks. Putting in work at the outset will lead to less heartache down the line.

How to Define a New Role at a Startup

How to Define a New Role at a Startup

As a startup founder or team lead, you already have a lot on your plate. Growing the business and keeping it running on the day-to-day is hard enough without throwing hiring into the mix.

When it does come time to hire, it can be difficult to gauge what your team needs. This is made even harder when a startup is young or lacks a defined company structure.

Defining a new role is the first step to making a great hire. Wrapping your head around the required skills, personality, and experience of a new employee will save you time and sanity in the long run.

Required Skills

Start by thinking of the tasks and responsibilities that the new role will be responsible for. Then, make a list of skills a person will realistically need to accomplish these tasks successfully.
Let’s take a graphic designer as an example. The new hire might be responsible for designing for a variety of formats, building out your brand, and managing web design. To do these things, the designer will probably need skills in the Adobe Creative Suite and HTML & CSS.

Now, take it a step further and envision how this person will fit in with your team’s current skillset. If there are gaps with your current team, a new hire might be able to fill them. For example, the graphic designer might also need illustration skills or have experience building teams. Think of any skills that might not be explicitly implied in an average description for the title, and add them to your posting.

If you’re not sure where to start, take a look at job descriptions for similar roles. If you have other employees, ask them to draft a description what the new hire’s day-to-day should look like and any skills they feel would round out the team. This gives you a candid peek into how your team thinks a new employee could contribute to overall goals.

Personality and Characteristics

When the team is small, finding a personality that fits in with your organization’s culture and vision is just as important as finding the right skillset. Before interviewing people, think about your company culture and what a person needs to excel within your team.

Start by considering your industry. If you build software for the non-profit sector, a genuine interest or passion in the area you serve could be fundamental to the role.

Also consider the team you already have and their personalities and working style. What would a person need to fit within this structure? Do you need a flexible person that’s ready and willing to take direction, or do you need a confident go-getter that will proactively seek out work instead of waiting to be directed?

Take stock of your current employees’ strengths and weaknesses and think about how an ideal candidate’s personality traits would fit in and complement them. By doing so, you’ll be bringing your company to the next level with each additional team member.

Experience Level and Company Structure

One of the most important factors in finding the right candidate for your organization is to find the right experience level for your needs and budget allowance. Would you like a hungry entry-level employee that’s ready to roll up their sleeves and learn, or do you need a more seasoned professional that can help lead the team when you’re offsite?

Many startup founders and team leads wear many hats, but juggling responsibilities can lead to inefficient and overwhelmed management. If you already have several employees reporting to you, it could be a good time to bring in a more senior employee to manage teams.

On the other hand, if you already have a solid team of senior employees ready to take on more responsibility, this could be a good time to bring in a more junior member to take on production.

Growth Strategy

Thinking about how each hire affects overall growth is an important thing to keep in mind. Depending on your product, you may require talent upfront to bring your product to launch, or you could keep things lean until the product is ready to enter market.

Also consider how this role fits into your startup’s needs in the short and long term. It’s natural to need evolving skillsets as a company grows—generalists are usually fundamental at the beginning while specialists are more helpful when the team reaches larger sizes.

Of course, budget should also be top of mind. As you define a new role, consider your reason for hiring and how your needs balance with what you can afford. If you’re short-handed after signing a big contract, consider the stability and longevity of the role before hiring full-time employees. If the demand is beginning to grow but your profit isn’t stable, consider freelance or contract talent. This will help you fulfill your current requirements without overextending budgets.

Defining Roles Sets You Up For Success

Building a team from scratch is one of the hardest things founders and leads have to do. Taking time to define the role before digging in can set you up for success in the long term. It helps set expectations for you and the new hire and gives everyone a framework to work from.

At the end of the day, don’t forget to trust your gut. In a lot of cases, personality outweighs skills that can be taught over time. Sometimes assembling the right group of people is more important than meeting the responsibilities set on paper.


Find your next new teammate by posting on Authentic Jobs.