How to Hire for a Startup: Three Key First Hires

If you’re reading this blog, you have probably reached the point in your founder journey when you’re ready to start hiring.

First of all – congratulations! It’s an amazing milestone, and you should be proud. At the same time, you might be feeling overwhelmed by all the work that needs to be delegated, and where to start.

Expanding your team beyond just you is an exciting place to be, but it’s important to make strategic hires that will set you and your company up for success.

You’re in the right place. We’ll cover the two main pieces of your recruiting process:

  • Three key hires to make as you hire for a startup
  • Where to look for candidates

Three key first hires for a startup

A systems person

The first key hire you should consider is a systems person. This individual will build out the systems to make your startup scalable, developing your standard operations procedures (SOPs,) key performance indicators (KPIs,) and more. Some titles you might consider for this individual:

  • Chief Operating Officer
  • Director of Operations
  • Operations Engineer
  • Process Engineer

In a nutshell, this person should be focused on the design and implementation of policies that promote growth and oversee operations to keep businesses on track.

What they’ll do

  • Process design
  • Employee onboarding and operations
  • Finances
  • Business relationships
  • Internal communications

A salesperson

The next key hire you should make is your evangelist: your business development extraordinaire. The kind of one-in-a-million magnetic individual who could sell water to the ocean. This individual will be dedicated to spreading the word about your product or service, getting your name and solution into all the right rooms and in front of all the right people.

Some examples of titles might be:

  • Director of Business Development
  • Director of Sales
  • Community Manager
  • Chief Evangelist

In other words, this person will shift your vision from a singular product or service to an established organization.

WeWork describes it this way: “By helping to fund the continued existence of the business, business development at early-stage startups is fundamentally about creating long-term value for the organization.”

What they’ll do

  • Prospect hunting
  • Pipeline management
  • Design sales systems
  • Close deals
  • Attend conferences
  • Make key introductions

Related: 10 Interview Questions to Ask Sales Executive Candidates

A product (or service) person

Your final key hire should be your product person—the individual who will dedicate themselves to knowing your product, service, or solution inside and out.

Here are some examples of titles for this individual:

  • Product Manager
  • Chief Product Officer
  • Director of Product
  • Product Engineer

This person should not only inherit your vision for the product, but they should also begin to build their own vision based on customer use and feedback. They should know your customers better than anyone at the company, ensuring the product evolves to meet customer demand and needs. Their day-to-day responsibilities might look like:

  • Creating products
  • Perfecting products
  • Identifying market gaps

Where to find hires for your startup

So, you know who you’re going to be looking for. Where do you find these candidates?

Working at a startup is not for the faint of heart, and you can’t just hire anyone. Where are some potential “watering holes” to find the right candidates?

Related: The 5 Soft Skills You Need to Succeed in a Startup Environment

Related: How Startups Can Hire Talent Quickly

Slack communities

Slack communities are growing in popularity, especially in the startup community, as a way to share ideas, innovations, best practices, and most importantly, recruit and job search.

Taskable listed the first 10 Slack communities you should consider joining as a startup founder here.

Social media

Social media, particularly LinkedIn, is a wonderful way to attract talent to your organization. You don’t even need to set up a dedicated business page before you, as a founder, can post to your personal account regarding your product, vision, and growth. This will build a community organically of people who will already have an understanding of who you are and what you do when you’re ready to hire.

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

Work with a talent acquisition and advisory firm

Building a qualified team that aligns with your organization’s mission and culture is essential for growth and success. Working with an agency can help speed up the hiring process and their market knowledge can help find higher-quality, specialized candidates who have the specific skills you need.

Viaduct is a one-stop talent solution that gives your most important resource—people—the attention they deserve. Viaduct offers contingent staffing, direct placement, and executive recruiting for whatever commitment or stage you’re at with your hiring. Contact our team today to learn more.

Hiring is an extraordinarily exciting marker to reach in your progress as a founder, so it’s important to take this step seriously. The team you assemble at the start will truly pave the way for your company’s direction and success.

Related: Common Recruiting Scaleup Mistakes Made by Startups

This blog was written by Viaduct’s Tom Hausler.

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