Staffing Concerns for the Growing Startup

At some point in the life cycle of a startup you cease to be a scrappy newcomer and evolve into an established company. With company success and growth comes increased demand for hiring qualified employees. And today’s low unemployment and tight candidate market make it difficult for any company to secure top talent.

There are two major issues faced by startups, or any fast-growing business for that matter, when the need for a significant hiring increase arises. The time will come when the opportunity cost of taking time away from a hiring manager’s actual job and responsibilities to research, vet and hire the right candidates is no longer sustainable. Hiring the right candidate can be a time-consuming process, which makes it difficult to stay on top of your day job.

The second challenge is to bring the right people in at the right time. Hiring too quickly, too late or making a hiring mistake can result in a decline in productivity and have a negative impact on a company. Determining staffing needs and quantity of hires can create its own set of challenges. Bringing on too many new hires without a clear growth path can lead to dissatisfied new hires and a rapid depletion of resources and funds.

In addition, companies often have a set of values that they want employees to embody. This is especially true of Bay Area startups concerned with throwing company culture and ethos out the window for the sake of growth.

With all this going on, it’s apparent that a change in strategy around hiring is needed. Once a startup reaches the phase where they need dedicated staff to fill specific roles, a structured recruiting effort is required to effectively fill the gaps needed to maintain company success.

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In markets like the Bay Area, lack of talent and rising housing prices for those that may consider relocation also contribute to the issues.

Here are a few ways recruiters can, and do, help navigate this uncertain terrain.

Knowing what’s needed for the road ahead: Whether the goal is an IPO, acquisition or just sustained growth, recruiters can advise and devote time to finding the right people. It’s a full-time effort to identify and hire talented employees that fit the company mold. Recruiters need to have access to the right candidates, while keeping a pulse on when hires need to be made. For startups, it’s the operational functions that need to be established — human resources, communications and financial personnel — that are most important, and recruiters often have insight on when to hire for these positions.

Hiring experienced financial professionals is the key to helping navigate the obstacles ahead for a growing business. For example, an individual who has gone through the IPO process before is invaluable to a start-up that wants to follow that path.

Guiding the right hiring decisions: Another aspect of good recruiting is patience in selecting the right employee. In the face of fast-paced growth it’s tempting to bring on employees to fill demand as quickly as possible, but the risk of bringing on the wrong hire increases greatly.

Maintaining cultural standards: As a company grows in both profit and head count, there can be a common fear that the original company ethos that gave employees meaning will evaporate into a corporate grind. This is a rational fear, and to be fair, company culture will change as an organization grows. However, this is another benefit of recruiters who can spend their time dedicated to sourcing candidates. It’s unlikely that everything will align and your dream candidate will be available, but you increase your chances of building a team that shares the company vision when you employ a selective process.

Any sort of hire has the potential to bring change to the company, and it’s important to ensure that the change is positive. In the face of fast growth, hiring challenges increase dramatically. A recruiter can help to sell the opportunity and the company to prospective candidates. Another important role of the recruiter in today’s marketplace is reminding every hiring manager that the hiring process is a two sided sales job. Of course the candidate needs to sell themselves and put their best foot forward in the recruiting process but clients must be selling as well. Today’s candidate has multiple choices when changing jobs. Hiring managers must always be selling the opportunity and the company  in order to attract the best candidate.

MORE: Using Outside Advisors

Ann King

Ann King
Ann King is co-founder of CVPartners.

Ann King

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