Mindset for recruiting in a start-up

Mindset for recruiting in a start-up

I have 23 years recruiting for Tech clients in the UK and internationally and I am fascinated by what makes some people and companies successful and others not so.

One of the real privileges and treats of recruiting in the deep tech sector is seeing the positive impact of our work. Finding the right people for companies can sometimes be a key catalyst for their success.

Recent examples of our hires that lead to companies’ success include: 

  1. We recruited a Technical Lead that took product from concept to prototype helping our client secure over £25 million in funding which allowed them to take a team of 7 to a business of over 100 people in 18 months.
  2. We helped build up a key design team from 3 to 20 technical engineers for a company that has recently secured a further £110 million in funding.

The cost of a wrong hire can be massive, however. A report from the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC) found that, a poor hire with a salary of £42,000 can cost a business more than £132,000 due to the accumulation of costs relating to training, lost productivity, lost time and repeating the recruitment process.

Recruitment can be frustrating, time consuming, uncomfortable, costly, scary and challenging, but….it is an essential part of your journey to success, so you need to have the right mindset when recruiting.

How to recruit the right person when you start your business.

  1. Be clear on the brief – the challenge often is that cash is tight and that the resource required covers a broader area than we might see in a more established structure. Tasks that may be carried out by several people will be rolled into one job role. The question is, does that person even exist? As entrepreneurs and business owners we are used to being the salesperson, administrator, book-keeper, cleaner, health and safety manager, delivery driver etc, etc but our future employees are not and it is unfair to expect them to be. So often when we have job descriptions from early stage companies, they are asking for too much and that puts people off the role. It confuses them and makes them nervous about the never-ending list of responsibilities. Enigma has a 49-point questionnaire that we take our clients through when building up a job spec – I shall be happy to share that with anyone that is interested.
  1. Understand your strengths and weaknesses and those of your team. Understand the profile of the team. Use a tool like Talent Dynamics to determine the best profile fit. Other personality assessment tools exist. Also understand the culture you are building because the people you hire in the early stages will own that. It is also important at this time to recognise that you will have to let go of some elements of your business in order to allow others to do their best for it. This is really challenging in terms of mindset because just at the point you are taking the greatest risk you need to let go in a sense. The reality is that these steps are crucial to your future success.
  1. Don’t look for perfect! You are not Ferrari or Mercedes F1 so you are unlikely to be able to compete for “perfect” but you can find “excellence” just understand that excellence is not perfect. Be clear on what skills or competencies you can develop and what attitudes and backgrounds are essential and be willing to compromise and be open.
  1. All Blacks – even in a team like the New Zealand Rugby “All Blacks” are not all super stars and it is the blend of the team that works. What drives their success is the culture that is drilled into them. The shared responsibility of the “shirt”. So your mindset has to be around culture and fit and recognise that there are some skills that people will be able to develop quite quickly in the job. Your mindset must be on how having that role filled will help your future success so it does not need to be the finished article right now but will have time to grow and develop.
  1. Know the real value of the role. Firstly, to your organisation but also in terms of pricing in the market. One mistake people often make is they budget the role wrong. Do your research and be prepared to offer 10% above market price for the role. I understand that budgets are tight but the issue is that people will perceive moving to a start up as a risk. Whilst you are optimistic, they have friends and family that will not be and will reinforce the idea that moving to your company is a risk. Gone are the days that people will buy into your company with the same passion as you and work for a lower salary in exchange for future promises. Be prepared to pay them well to come and help you fulfil your dream. Now I don’t mean anything ridiculous but recognise that if the job typically pays £45k in the market then you may need to pay £48k or £49k. The risk to them is real, they want to avoid joining a business that is going to bomb and find themselves unemployed in a few months. Is this a role that you are willing to give an equity stake of the business to? How will that work? Are you really going to be the next Unicorn?
  2. Think about the package.  So often we only have salary and pension but look at something like Vitality Healthcare it is not expensive and makes you seem much more set up! If you look for top performers, be high performance minded and put in place a strong package for them.
  1. Be prepared – Think about HR policies. You don’t need an HR manager until you are over say 50 people but there are plenty of outsource HR organisations that can help you get things set up and on a subscription payment structure. This protects your business and your employees. They and your business deserve this. As a starting point look at the federation of small businesses they have some great HR tools.
  1. A vital mistake employers make is not planning the induction and training properly. Use tools like Movavi to record your processes as you do them so that new starts know what they are doing and it saves you time in the long run. Encourage your existing team to video demonstrations of any processes and tasks so that new people can find the information they need.


Free resources

Email “Mindset” to hello@enigmapeople.com and we shall send you our free job qualification template / questionnaire to help you develop your job. Send this back to us and we shall turn this into an advert for you and also give you a free consultancy call to discuss through the role and some strategies for filling it. Also we will send you a cheat sheet of resources that will make your life easier.

We hope to hear from you soon!

Enigma People Solutions is an award-winning technology recruitment consultancy. We find technical leaders for the emerging and enabling technology industries. Visit our services page for more information. Visit our job search page for the latest vacancies in photonics, electronics, semiconductor, software and IoT in Scotland and the UK. Check out our blog page for the latest in the technology industry. You can get in touch with us hello@enigmapeople.com or call us on + 44 131 510 8150