April 2, 2013

Building a workforce for your start-up

This is a guest post by http://www.eshores.co.uk

Hiring your first employees

Before you begin the hiring process you need to think carefully about your decision; do you genuinely need to hire someone? Or can the work be outsourced to a freelancer? Making the commitment to hiring salaried staff members can be a costly mistake if the need isn’t really there. Nearly all job roles can be carried out by freelancers – from admin work and web design, to public relations and online marketing. Think carefully before you jump into hiring someone!

At our company (http://www.eshores.co.uk), we just take things slowly, bringing someone on, letting them settle in and training them up to the point where they can do the job correctly. Then we just wait until we’re busy enough for someone else – and think carefully about whether the workload will still be around for them in future.

Networking and advice from colleagues and staff is invaluable when searching for new hires – introducing a referral reward can work well as staff feel responsible for introducing high quality candidates to the company. Employees feel that their reputation may be harmed if they refer someone unsuitable for the role merely to receive the reward, and candidates put forward by friends will have a better idea of the work and company culture they are applying for.

Choosing the right people

If you do decide to go ahead and look for staff – don’t hire the first person you meet! Of course you won’t hire the first candidate that walks through the door; you might however jump the gun and hire someone because you’re eager to get new people on board.

The type of experience is just as important as the skills they claim to have; someone with experience in working at small start-ups or business environments will serve much better than someone with all the skills, but no real life experience. As a young business you need someone with the credentials and relevant work history to bring new ideas or hard learned lessons to support you and the team effectively; this doesn’t necessarily mean hire someone older or with a longer work history, but a candidate who has acquired the right knowledge in a similar working environment to bring to the table.

That being said, don’t dismiss someone younger or with little work history; at our company we look for people with the right skills and experience, but we can teach a lot too. So the main thing for us now is that they’ll fit in and have the ability to learn.

Don’t be fooled by fancy CVs

Hire someone who has experienced setbacks. Someone with a glittering CV filled with big wins might look promising, but it’s worth paying attention to someone who will admit to experiencing problems and failures – and explaining how they overcame them. Natural born problem solvers are an asset to any company, but are particularly useful to start-ups.

Avoid a 9-5 mind-set; it’s likely that irregular or long hours may be par for the course at times, so makes sure that you get an idea of how a potential candidate may react to this. Of course work/life balance is important, but you need to know that an employee will put in the extra work when necessary.

Make sure they fit with the company

Company culture is important, but perhaps not in the way you thought. Potential employees shouldn’t only be the candidates you most enjoyed spending time with, but also the ones who would work best with your current employees. For example, if you hire someone who prefers to work alone and without outside input, they may struggle to succeed in an environment where everyone shares ideas and works in a close-knit group – and vice versa. If you need someone who can work well on team projects and enjoys group discussion, keep an eye out for candidates who gained the majority of their experience in team orientated environments and group projects.

When we started employing staff, we made many mistakes through forgetting the importance of employing people that would get on. Having a small office, this then created an awkward atmosphere at times; when we started employing like-minded people it made such a difference. The office is now a great place to work, with banter and somewhere that everyone enjoys working – this is also a more productive environment, which ultimately helps drive our business forward!

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