14 Recruiting Tips For Startups For 2024

14 Recruiting Tips For Startups For 2024

Building your team in 2024? Experts from Founders Keepers and BrighterBox share their top hiring and recruitment tips for startups.

In today’s competitive startup landscape, building a strong, diverse team is more crucial than ever. Plus, as we move further into 2024, founders face unique challenges when it comes to recruiting and retaining top talent.

Scaling startups must integrate new team members at pace, fill vital skills gaps, meet changing employee expectations, and ensure they can best leverage the rapid advancements in AI – making the wrong hire at a crucial time can be a significant setback.

With this in mind, we hosted a recruitment 101 session for founders in our Climate and Libra programmes, in partnership with startup-focused recruiters, Founders Keepers and BrighterBox, who shared their top hiring tips for startups in 2024, covering both executive and junior graduate talent.

1. Prioritise quality over quantity

Don’t fall into the trap of large applicant pools, through ‘easy apply’ options. Focus on targeted outreach and building genuine connections with potential hires. Marketing is a challenging role to hire for if it’s your first marketing hire. Steer clear of hiring too junior hires – they may do what they enjoy rather than what’s needed. Hire for more senior marketing positions to begin with.

2. Hire for fit, not just skills

Look beyond technical skills and assess cultural fit, alignment with values, and the potential for long-term growth within the company. When you’re hiring people early, they’ll need to wear multiple hats. Understand where people get their energy from and ensure they’re comfortable with what’s expected of them. Use the Hong Kong flight test: Would you spend 12 hours on a plane with this person? If performance is a 7/10 but culture fit is 10/10, that is better than the other way around. 

3. Craft compelling job titles

Titles matter, but avoid inflating them to attract talent. Ensure titles accurately reflect responsibilities and career progression within the company. Ensure everyone understands their roles, responsibilities, and how their contributions impact the company’s goals.

4. Leverage recruitment tools

Make use of platforms like LinkedIn Recruiter to efficiently find and connect with qualified candidates. Explore other relevant platforms based on your specific hiring needs.

5. Be transparent

Be upfront about salary ranges, benefits, and expectations throughout the recruitment process. This builds trust and attracts the right candidates.

6. Be authentic

Ditch generic job descriptions or using AI generated language. Use authentic and inclusive language, and actively seek diverse candidates to build a well-rounded team. Then foster an environment of open communication, where employees feel comfortable sharing ideas, asking questions, and receiving constructive feedback.

7. Fine-tune your interview process

For junior roles, two interviewers and two interviews are recommended to get a well-rounded view; one informal interview and one task-based interview. Implement thorough evaluation metrics and score each interviewee out of five.

8. Benchmark salaries

Ensure you’re benchmarking salaries for the role to understand what expected salaries are for the role you are hiring for and adjust appropriately. Don’t delay in making offers, especially to top talent who likely have multiple options. Be prepared to negotiate within a reasonable range to secure the best candidates.

9. Be strategic with equity

While equity can be a valuable tool, use it strategically and don’t rely solely on it as a recruitment or retention strategy. Junior candidates may be new to equity; help them understand all aspects, including what equity would mean. Talk them through that process and be transparent about the timeframe. 

10. Champion flexibility and DEI

Gen Z prioritises a healthy work-life balance and diverse teams. Offering hybrid work models and remote work options can provide a significant advantage in attracting top, diverse talent.

11. Build your advisory board

Seek out experienced advisors and NEDs (Non-Executive Directors) who can provide valuable guidance, open doors to new opportunities, and add diverse perspectives to your team. Find 50 people that you’d like to have as an advisor and get a coffee invitation to meet them. You will usually get a disproportionate benefit, and they’ll typically want equity over money, so they won’t cost you in the short term.

12. Consider fractional hiring

For c-suite roles, consider fractional hiring options with daily rates usually ranging from £800 to £2,000. Standard day rates typically go up to £1,500 unless the person is exceptional. This can be a cost-effective way to access senior-level expertise for a fraction of their time.

13. Consider a recruitment agency

For time-poor founders, recruitment agencies can handle the time-consuming tasks of sourcing, screening, and interviewing candidates, provide access to a larger talent pool, and expedite the hiring process. Agency specialists with industry expertise can be a good option if you’re looking for a niche hire. 

Agency fees vary but you can expect to pay 15-20% of a hire’s annual salary, or a monthly retainer, for graduate recruitment agencies. For executive recruiters, you can expect to pay 1-1.5% of your hire’s annual salary or around £60k, depending on your company stage. If a hire doesn’t work out after 3-6 months, agencies may help find a replacement candidate.

14. Promote your employer brand

Showcase your company’s mission, impact, and unique culture to stand out from the crowd. Highlight career development opportunities to attract ambitious individuals. If you make an effort to make your company desirable from the get go, then when you raise your Series E, the Bill Gates of CTOs (for example) will want to join you!

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