3 Things To Know Before Your Startup Hires Its First Team

3 Things To Know Before Your Startup Hires Its First Team

In the world of startups, one thing is crucial to survival: growth.

Lots of it, and fast, too, if you’re going to get your head above water and compete with the bigger organizations in your industry. Fresh ideas aren’t new for long, and you’ll soon find plenty of others swimming up against you.

But so far, so good with your startup.

You’ve managed to avoid some serious startup mistakes thus far and are experiencing growth. You’ve got a great concept and its generating plenty of interest. Business is beginning to come in faster, and you are building some customer loyalty.

As the entrepreneur and the sole worker, you are beginning to feel stretched by the range and volume of tasks required, from development to admin, customer service, and banking. Luckily, increased trading means that funds are becoming available to get some help. Perhaps it is time for your startup to take on its first employees.

Great. What could be better than your amazing concept with an incredible team to implement it?

It’s absolutely certain that a business’s greatest assets are its human resources. The right combination of product, service and people can be formidable, together making the magical elixir needed for startup success.

But, before you begin to imagine a queue of incredible candidates lining up to work for you, and race to post that job ad, there a few home truths of startup recruitment that you need to know first. Read all about them below:

There’s No ‘I’ in Team

You need growth, and to do that, you need people. You need to create a team. Not just any team, however. The right team. You need a mix of both skill sets and mindsets that perfectly complement each other to make an even greater force than individual talent alone. That is the road to startup success.

You could construct a team with complementing skill sets fairly easily, using resumes and track record alone.

But a team of complimenting mindsets is harder to build.

Finding people who will click into your company culture and have that all-important chemistry to seamlessly work together (with you) could take time, or trial and error. Neither of which is an option in a startup; you need to get it right fast, and the first time.

To do this, don’t be afraid to go against perceived hiring norms to find the right fit for each role.

Invite shortlisted candidates for team coffee or lunch, for example. Is there an immediate buzz in the room? People who are happy and confident in each other’s company are more likely to generate ideas, to speak up about issues, and to work hard to contribute to the team.

Agility Wins Over Speed

Imagine this. You’re lucky enough to get an awesome specialist apply for your first available role. Totally qualified and vastly experienced in exactly the area you need him or her for. Before you begin the celebrations remember, however, that you are a startup.

This means that you need somebody who not only specializes, but who is also happy to contribute in any way he or she can and needs to.

You may be recruiting for a tech role, but in the world of startups where time waits for no one, there are numerous tasks that may need to be completed by a non-specialist until the team expands.

Your recruit may need to contribute to banking and accounting, customer service, HR and recruitment, admin, marketing, or anything else that means the business can carry on growing.

Flexibility is the key

The ideal candidate would be able to cope with a change in business direction, or with pitching in to meet a tight deadline in whichever way he or she can.  

So, look for an agile candidate, and beware of taking on someone too specialist at this stage.

After all, “Don’t be afraid to let go of the good to go for the great” said John D. Rockefeller.

The Interviewee is Actually the Interviewer

Any great candidate is in demand, and they know this.

There are almost countless exciting job opportunities available in the MENA region at any one time. Chances are, your startup is just one of many possibilities for their next career move. Whilst it is great that they are interested in working for you, never assume at this stage that they want to work for you.

In this sense, the interview process is as much about their decision as it is about yours. You need to impress as much as they do, probably more. You are the fledgling company; they have a resume that proves their worth.

Prepare for interviews diligently; be clear on what your startup has to offer a candidate, the direction of the business and how you fully intend them to be a part of it. Ensure candidates leave the interview impressed by your vision, and with all the information they need to make the decision to work for you.

Keep these three truths in mind, and you should start to see an incredible team begin to piece itself together.


David Mackenzie

A recruitment professional with over twenty years’ experience in the field and a record of entrepreneurial accomplishment, David is Managing Director and Head of HR at Mackenzie Jones.

In 2003, David set up Mackenzie Jones in the UK, growing the business across two offices in London and Birmingham. In 2005 David established Mackenzie Jones in Dubai to serve the Gulf region and neighbouring countries. As the Group MD, David is responsible for the overall direction of the Mackenzie Jones Group including Mackenzie Jones, MumsAtWork, MENA Solutions, Simply Digital and ThinkTech.


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