Hiring new people is a big step for your startup, but how do you do it well? Recruiting is hard; if you find the right person you’ve added an asset to your team. But if you hire the wrong person, you’ve just added more problems to your plate.
It’s key to know how to hire, but it’s just as important to know what not to do. Here are five common hiring myths that startups need to bust, and what to do instead.
Myth 1: You don’t need a job description
Founders can clarify what they want in a candidate by creating a job description. It also helps them commit to finding the right person. Mario K. Castillo, Chief Operating Officer at Lone Star College, agrees. “Before you can fulfill a need, you have to understand the need. Detailed job descriptions at the recruiting stage help you identify the company's actual, current need and to more efficiently fill that need.”
Make the process clearer by listing must- and good-to-haves in the job description. Include descriptions for both hard and soft skills. This helps reduce unconscious biases, especially if you have many rounds of interviews.
Myth 2: Hires need to take a pay cut
It’s true that hires will need to take a pay cut if your startup hasn’t released a minimum viable product (MVP) yet. And seed money still means contributions from family and friends. Anyone who joins you at this stage must have the confidence to risk current income for future income.
But if your startup has an MVP with good product/market fit and is seeing traction, you’ll need to pay market rate or close. The right person can help you hit the right metrics and bring your startup to its next stage. If you must ask your hire to take a pay cut, consider giving equity, but only based on how important the role is to the startup’s success. Also consider other benefits that hires value, like learning new skills, striking out on their own, and having work/life balance.
Myth 3: Hires need to do everything
Joining a startup lets you take on broad responsibilities. But no matter how much everyone wants to do, there are only so many hours in a day. Everyone has limited bandwidth, competencies, and preferences.
Clear roles and responsibilities prevent hires from taking on everything — including the kitchen sink. Research has shown that teamwork actually improves when the roles of individual members are clearly defined. Without such transparency, friction between members increases.
Myth 4: Saturday is a Monday
It’s true if you’re the founder. And especially so if your work is your passion. But hires aren’t founders, and you’ll need to be real on how many hours you expect them to put in, no matter how passionate they are. Sleeping less than six hours a day, for example, has been shown to be one of the best predictors of job burnout. So remember to give them their weekends -- they’ll come back recharged to do even better.
Myth 5: You need to hire fast
You need to get things done, and there’s never enough people to do them. So you feel pressured to hire, and to hire quickly. That’s when you need to pause. Ian Im, Head of Talent and Culture at MoneySmart, advises, “Don’t compromise your hiring standards because of time pressure.”
Or, in other words, hire slow and fire fast. Take the time to get to know your potential hires, because a wrong fit can cause even more chaos in a startup. It’s harder to fire than to hire, so you’ll want to make sure you take the time with all of your candidates. If you do hire someone who doesn’t fit the team, let them go quickly and humanely.