Common Recruiting Scaleup Mistakes Made by Startups

If you’re a founder or recruiter at a growing startup organization you may be finding it challenging to attract and recruit quality workers in today’s candidate-driven labor market. Your organization needs workers with a specific skill set, who are ready to hustle and have a sense of flexibility that comes with being part of a growing organization. As a startup, you likely don’t have the hiring resources or brand awareness of more established businesses. In fact, an inability to make key hires is the reason 14 percent of startups fail. What are some of the common recruiting scaleup mistakes made by startups that cause setbacks or failure?  

Overhiring or hiring too soon: An influx of new hires will have a large impact on a startup’s budget and resources. When founders overhire or hire too soon, a lot of their time and energy ends up being diverted into management—distracting them from doing work related to their core business. Before you even begin the hiring process, it’s important that you determine your business needs, what tasks your new employees will perform, and how many workers it will take to do the job. Doing this will save you time, money, and the critical resources that you need to operate and scale efficiently.  

Thinking that all sourcing funnels are equal: Examples of candidate sources include referrals, professional social media sites, and job boards. When building your recruitment strategy, it’s important to consider the positives and negatives of each source to ensure you’re using an appropriate combination. Founders and recruiters often make a like-to-like comparison between candidate sources without accounting for the differences between them and how each affects a startup organization’s hiring outcomes.  

  • Employee referrals: Your current employees know your organization and its culture best and can recommend candidates in their network that could be a good fit.
    • Positives: The benefit of referrals is that the candidates are most likely going to be high in quality.  
    • Negatives: The downside is that referred candidates are passive and are often not actively looking for a new position.
  • LinkedIn: A LinkedIn job posting will provide numerous applicants but are they the type of candidates your organization is looking for?
    • Positives: LinkedIn has more than 830 million members in 200 counties and regions worldwide and provides your startup organization with a large reach. 67 percent of recruiters said that LinkedIn hired professionals are of high quality.
    • Negatives: A potential negative of relying solely on LinkedIn is that even though it has a wide reach, it could be limited depending on your target audience. Almost 60 percent of LinkedIn users are between 25 and 34 years old. Male LinkedIn users outnumber women—57 percent to 43 percent.
  • Job boards: Startup job boards like AngelList, GitHub, and StackOverflow can give your organization maximum visibility at an affordable price.   
    • Positives: Similar to LinkedIn, startup job boards allow recruiters to reach a large audience that’s accessible 24 hours a day.
    • Negatives: When sourcing candidates using job boards, be prepared to sift through a lot of applications from unqualified applicants.

Depending on one channel to source all your candidates is never a good idea. Each source has tradeoffs that recruiters must consider when building their overall recruiting strategy. Take time to evaluate each, the positions you’re hiring for, and your hiring budget. If you are relying solely on job boards and professional networking sites to find top talent, you’re missing out on passive candidates that are not actively applying for roles. If you are dependent on referrals to fill all your open positions, you may have difficulty scaling as quickly as planned because you won’t have enough qualified candidates. It’s important to use a multi-pronged approach to identify and hire top talent to meet your startup business growth goals.

Failing to “court” your candidate: Prospective employees want to know “what’s in it for me?” 89 percent of passive candidates evaluate your brand before applying and businesses with reputable brands receive 50 percent more qualified applicants. Does your company have a strong Employee Value Proposition (EVP) to effectively communicate your organization’s benefits, corporate culture, and reasons why workers should want to consider a job opportunity?

Related: What is Your Employee Value Proposition?

In today’s hyper-competitive job market, it’s critical to foster a strong relationship with prospective job seekers throughout the entire hiring process. Building trust and having good communication will reduce the likelihood of misunderstandings and candidate ghosting.

Slow decision-making process: There’s a limited supply of talent and the best candidates are in high demand and receive multiple job offers. If the interview process is two to four weeks or more, almost 40 percent of job seekers lose interest and pursue other roles. If you’re not prepared to make a quick decision, you may lose out on quality talent to your competitors.

Related: 6 Ways to Attract and Hire Best-Fit Startup Talent

Position your startup for success

When it comes to startup hiring, every decision is important and there’s little room for error. Because your team is small, each additional employee is critical to your company’s growth and success. A successful recruiting strategy requires a multi-pronged approach. Here’s what we suggest:  

  1. Post the position to job boards and/or LinkedIn to get it out in the market. This avenue requires the most time and is least likely to result in a hire. However, it’s an important step to fill your candidate funnel.
  2. Start connecting with your network for referrals. Referred candidates may end up being passive job seekers, but often a person in your network will know someone who is looking to make a move.
  3. Recruit using a targeted search based on skill set, experiences, and past employers.
  4. Have as many conversations as possible early in the search before narrowing it down to your top three candidates to move forward in the interview process.

Because they are under time constraints, many startup founders and leaders seek sourcing and recruiting assistance from outside talent acquisition firms focused on the talent needs of emerging businesses. Learn more about Viaduct’s services here.   

This blog was written by Viaduct’s Director of Recruiting and Business Operations Tom Hausler.

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