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7 Hiring Tips for Startups & Small Businesses

Hiring the right people is one of the most critical things that entrepreneurs need to do in order to grow their startups. Given the size of start-ups, each new hire can bring in huge impact and influence on the company’s culture, far more compared to new hires in bigger companies. This means that you need to make sure that each new candidate you hire is a passionate, engaged and committed team player.

Recruitment can be quite daunting and expensive for small businesses & startups. There are, however, some tips and tricks that can help you hire better, even if you’re just starting out in the business.

1. Write a clear job description

People tend to find jobs based on keywords or industries, and you should keep that in mind when writing the job ad. Be descriptive and broad about the role, but be clear and concise.

Include the day-to-day tasks, description on how the position fits into the overall company goals, salary and benefits information, and the required necessary skills for the role. This will help potential candidates understand how they can make a valuable contribution to the company.

2. Be where candidates are

Think about where the best candidates for your role would be hanging out, virtually or physically. If you need software developers, they would most likely be in a Facebook or LinkedIn group, where they all gather. Alternatively, you can also drop by a hackathon or demo day.

3. Be flexible

Smaller companies can be more flexible than bigger companies, and you should use that as a selling point. You can offer a flexible work schedule for employees or allow them to work remotely once a week.

You don’t need to impose a rigid schedule on everyone, as long as your employees can meet their targets and collaborate when needed.

4. Make your company values clear

Sometimes, it’s better to hire someone on who is slightly less talented but fits the culture perfectly than someone who is extremely talented but does not fit with the company’s core values. Start-ups must understand that skills can be taught, but attitude, personality and passion can’t.

Sean Cohen, COO of AWeber, asks interview questions like, ‘If you were a superhero, who would you be and why?’ and ‘If you entered a room and a theme song played, what would it be and why?’

“There’s no real wrong answer to any of these questions, but they do give insight into the type of person a candidate is,” says Cohen.

5. Think of everyone as a potential hire

Every person you meet could be a potential hire, so it’s good to keep a pool of names in a database of prospective hires.

This will make recruitment quicker when it comes to the point where you urgently need someone to fill a position.

6. Implement an employee referral program

Empower your employees to help bring in great candidates. They are aware of your company needs and your work culture, so they would be the right recruitment ambassadors for your company.

Reward successful referrals with incentives like a cash bonus, gift cards or paid time-offs.

7. Take candidates for a test drive

It can be quite expensive to hire someone, so if you like a candidate but are unsure of how they would perform in practice, it might be worth to test the waters with a short-term contract.

If, after the short-term contract, you find that they could be great employees, then you may offer a longer-term agreement.


Start-ups are in a unique position to recruit talented, skilled and passionate candidates. With these tips above, you can easily navigate through the challenges of finding the right person to join your team.

Thinking of implementing an employee referral program? Contact Firstbird.

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