Expand London: The Art to Successful Startup Recruitment

Avatar, March 3, 2017 4 min read

This article was originally posted on the Tech City UK website.

Effective recruitment is essential for any business but for startups the success of your hiring can literally make or break you. The urgency which comes with rapid expansion, often leads to compromises on the quality of candidate. This is obviously a dangerous payoff. So how can you hire effectively during high growth?


Establish your employer brand

This starts with assessing what your values are as a company and building your culture around them. Ask yourself what defines you as a brand? How are you different to competitors and what’s most important to you? To attract and retain like-minded employees you need to be honest in your self-promotion.

For Ruth Penfold, Director of Talent at Shazam, a strong employer brand is about being authentic. “People feel authenticity instinctively – whether you meet them online or in person, so make sure that the version of you that you show to the world is the real one.”


Julien Deslangles-Blanch, General Assembly’s UK & Germany Regional Director, says that hiring a cultural fit is vital to propel your company in the right direction and maintain your values as you grow. “In any small team, a new member plays a powerful role in defining our culture and shaping our team. We look for team members who can shape the team while making it better.”

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Let candidates determine their own role

Allowing potential hires to evaluate exactly where they’ll add the most value to your business is a huge asset. It can help you identify gaps in the job spec, it ensures an employee’s skills are fully utilised and it puts the onus on the candidate to deliver, and quickly.  

Dee Murphy, Organisational Psychologist and Jobbio’s Expert in Residence says that today’s job seekers see themselves as more than just employees who can be pigeon holed. “They’re proactive ‘creators’ looking to build careers based on what they know they’re good at, not just what a job description tells them. By allowing people to create their own job you’re reducing the risk of misaligned skills and increasing your potential to build a team of power players.”


Champion diversity

Having a diverse team will give your company a competitive edge in a number of ways. It leads to improved morale, better problem solving and more creative output. To attract diverse candidates write inclusive job specs which don’t favour one group of people over the other. Use gender neutral pronouns and list qualifications as preferred not required unless they are essential to succeed in the role. Don’t limit your recruitment efforts to familiar networks, look to hire people from underrepresented schools or colleges. Armi Ingratta is Head of Talent at Nexmo, he says that diversity of thought is one of the driving forces in Nexmo’s rapid success.

The reason we hire diverse people is because they think differently –  a female developer thinks differently to a male developer and having that mix makes life interesting and varied and challenging. It’s not about being male or female, it’s about what you can bring to the table, what you can do.”

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Fully embrace technology

It stands to reason that the most innovative talent are drawn to the most innovative technology. This is particularly true of Millennials and Gen Zs who are increasingly intolerant of slow tech or dated processes. To attract these innovators to your team, lose the set-hours-at-a-desk mindset and embrace remote working and interactive workspaces. At Airbnb, they’ve adopted a policy of ‘neighbourhoods’ to encourage collaborative working. This means in their European HQ nobody has an assigned desk but instead a shared workspace made up of standing desks, large tables and lounge areas. Fiona Keane, European Recruitment Manager at Airbnb says in an evolving jobs market, flexibility is key.

“A lot of our employees work remotely. We allow them, we trust them. Being a good employee is not about presenteeism anymore.”


Engage with open talent

Building relationships with passive or open talent is a good way to source the most qualified candidates and build a pipeline for future roles. Certain positions will require such a specialised or sought after set of skills that they are usually only found in employed candidates. The higher the quality of candidate you’re seeking, the more likely it is they already have a job.

As well as this, advances in tech have enhanced the culture of shared information – it’s easier than ever to access details of a person’s career from their social and professional networks. Events, partnerships and peer networking sessions have also legitimised building contacts outside your current job and these are all great opportunities to connect with open talent.

Ruth Penfold says sparking the interest of open candidates is particularly relevant for the tech sector. “For tech hiring, it really is about numbers. We have to hunt hard to have a steady pipeline of talent coming in to meet with us.”

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Want to learn more about effective hiring? Attend the HR sessions at EXPAND London for valuable advice from industry experts.

Guest Posts, Hiring, skills, talent, London