You are currently viewing The Complete Guide to Recruiting for Start-ups
  • Reading time:7 mins read
  • Post category:Recruitment
  • Post published:August 4, 2020

In most scenarios, the better known a company is, the more demand there seems to be by potential employees to work for that organization. The more demand there is to work for a firm, the easier time a staffing specialist has filling open jobs.

Any recruiter can staff employees for firms like Google and Microsoft. Not every recruiter can successfully recruit top employees for small business.

It’s often small businesses that need recruiting services most. Here’s a look into recruiting for small companies and how to best approach getting the underdog top talent.

Why Recruiting for Small Business is Difficult

There are a few reasons why executive search for start-ups has its challenges. Pinpointing these potential issues is the initial step to being able to uncover intelligent, unique solutions to get the job done.

  1. Low hiring budgets coupled with inflated expectations:
    • Often, start-ups will want to be driving a BMW but will be working with the budget of a used Hyundai.
    • At times, headhunters won’t be candid and address the discrepancy in needs vs. reality and will end up working an account that will never monetize.
    • The most effective way to prevent this from happening is to inform the client as to what is and what is not possible. Be factual. Make the owners understand that even though their budget may not get them everything they want, they can still recruit a great employee.
  2. Employees strive to feel important and some get a sense of worth by association with a top organization:
    • Some job seekers feel better about themselves when they work for a brand name for no other logic then they can say they work for a known organization.
    • People will endure bosses who are tyrannical, working conditions that are less than favorable and seemingly unbearable hours just to have an association with these types of firms.
    • As a recruiter, when you encounter these individuals, one of two things can be done. The first is to pass them up and move on to the next applicant. The second is to make the job seeker realize that not all “brand name” positions will play to their skill-set as well as a smaller organization would. Career choices should be based on individual positions rather than overarching company names.
  3. Start-ups often have trouble recruiting themselves and sometimes fail to make a positive impression on the candidates:
    • We’ve dealt with start-up CEO’s who have been very rough around the edges when it comes to attracting job applicants.
    • At times, small businesses are too inundated with their own work and fail to give thorough interviews, prove to be indecisive when it comes to making an offer or, due to distractions make the job seeker feel unimportant.
    • Sometimes, a recruiter’s own worst enemy when staffing for start-ups is the client getting in their own way.
  4. Employment stability:
    • There is a myth amongst job seekers that working for larger organizations will provide a heightened job stability when compared with smaller companies.
    • Some larger organizations provide a lot less job security than a small business in that same industry. History has proven that big business can be just as unreliable as start-ups in this regard.

The Employment Stability Argument

One of the biggest deterrents job seekers have about working for start-ups is the perceived lack of employment stability. Pointing out some of the following counter-arguments may shed some light on the inaccuracies of the logic.

  • CEOs of publicly traded companies spend their tenure trying to cut fat from an organization to increase shareholder value. The majority of the time, CEOs are rewarded for large employee cuts by an increase in share price.
  • Some of the best business people in history have been effective by firing and downsizing. The entire point of Ford’s assembly line was to get the most production possible out of existing or even fewer employees without having to hire additional people. Part of the reason John D. Rockefeller was as successful as he was is that he was a wizard at finding excess costs down to the cent (people included).
  • The larger a firm is, the less they get to know the employees; for most hiring entities, it’s a heck of a lot easier to fire people whom you don’t know.
  • Cisco, Credit Suisse, Coach Inc., IBM, Citigroup, Chase and Blackberry are among just a few of the name companies that are aggressively laying off employees in 2013. Finding Out What is Desirable About Working for a Small BusinessThere can be a myriad of interesting points about working for a smaller company. As recruiters, it’s our job to identify which is pertinent to the organization we’re recruiting for and clearly convey those benefits. There are many skilled and professional staffing and recruitment solution providers.

While headhunting for start-ups can pose challenges, it can also present great revenue opportunities for staffing firms.

A few reasons why candidates tend to be drawn to start-ups include:

  1. The ability to be heard. Often, in large companies, employees are not discouraged from having strong opinions and formulating creative solutions to everyday issues. While large companies don’t require this from every individual, smaller organizations tend to give their people a voice. If your client allows for open collaboration, express that benefit to the job seeker. In many circumstances, it’s a strong selling point.
  2. Access to leadership. When a small company has strong leadership, the job seeker stands to gain from the insight and availability to top management. The larger a company, the less interaction an employee is likely to have with the C-level executives. At a start-up, the workers typically have a direct email, phone and in-person access to the decision makers of that firm.
  3. Ability to stand out when a job seeker produces. When an employee does well for a small business, they will stand-out as a contributor much more than they would be working at a firm with hundreds of workers. Because it is so difficult for small businesses to recruit solid individuals, they will hold their top employees in a much higher regard than a typical Fortune 500.
  4. More movement and less talk. The larger the company, the more capital it tends to have to sit around and strategize its next move as opposed to a small business who can’t afford to be stagnant. When job seekers get to work for smaller companies, they are less likely to be bogged down in meetings that accomplish little. Moreover, they are less likely to have layers of approval necessary before taking a particular action and are less likely to be halted when attempting to implement new business methods.