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Startups are perceived as disruptors of the market. Thus, hiring talent that has the capability to disrupt the market is no more an option but a necessary survival point for them. Till about 2 years ago, startups, especially unicorns, flushed with funds were throwing fat salary packages to hire the best and the brightest talent from the campuses. But 2016 has seen investors tightening their purse strings and pressing the founders to become profitable.

The irony is that one needs top talent to drive founder’s vision to emerge as a successful and a profitable company. Thus, the question arises how to hire right for your startup without spending considerable amount of investors’ money. Here are few hacks for startups that are on a look out for good talent:

Founder as a brand

As a founder or promoter of a company, your pedigree and track record will go a long way in shaping your brand value as a leader who can lead a bunch of enthusiastic and risk taking youngsters to join your company.
Candidates today are ready to experiment and take up challenging assignments and are more attracted by professionals who have an excellent track record.

Prospective candidates have started doing more research about the companies before even applying for a job. If they like what your startup is doing or perceive you have the potential to disrupt the market segment, they are more likely to apply and come on board with a fresh perspective and ideas to take the business to the next level.

Team structure

Before you even schedule an interview with a bright chap or pitch your company to a prospective talent, you need to be clear about the kind of team structure you would like to put in place, hierarchy model of the company and number of people a particular function needs. Remember random hiring will result in significant attrition if your company hits a rocky phase. Realistically speaking, every startup goes through this cycle and that’s when many founders realize that they have hired more people than needed or expanded fast because they hired more people. (Read Housing, Common Floor, Zomato, TinyOwl)

Job description

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I believe in a saying that if you can’t give a crisp brief to your team then never mind quality of talent, they will never be able to execute your vision to anyone’s satisfaction. Similarly, having a clear and crisp job description in place will help you identify the kind of talent you need to hire. Being in the HR recruitment space for over 3 decades, I can confidently say that candidates don’t like to apply for open-ended job profiles or unclear responsibilities.

Transparency

It is important that you maintain transparency from selection to on boarding of a candidate. This is a first impression of the story you sold to the candidate. If he sees transparency at your end, it will only go a long way in shaping an ethical and equally transparent professional in your company. Such people are known to stick around more than average work span in a single company.

Career growth

A candidate who joins a startup is most likely to do so for a thrill, an opportunity to rise up to a challenge, grow fast and enjoy freedom at work to implement unconventional ideas. And if you appreciate such thinking and want this talent to be in your company, then you and your HR head have their task cut out. For such over achievers, be sure to design a clear growth path with a structured appraisal process in place.

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It is understandable that being a startup, funds are always running tight or diverted to tech and marketing functions, which are expected to generate revenues in turn. Thus, for hiring function, many founders and even HR advisors lay emphasis on hiring freshers from tier 2 and 3 cities. Many startup founders have asked me that if they hire too many such freshers, how can they maintain quality control on the work, because people maketh a company. My response is — invest in training the resources. This investment doesn’t have to be necessarily monetary.

In the absence to funds to hire senior resources, it becomes imperative to train and mentor freshers. They look up to the founders who have the vision and the idea on which the business model is based. Freshers are adaptable, ready to learn and do not carry any baggage. The Founder can become a guide, coach and mentor to freshers who can immensely benefit from the rich & varied experience of the founders. Such a scenario can churn favorable results for your company till you raise a large funding round.

Post raising funds, it is advisable to set aside a percentage of funds on achieving the right talent mix for the organization. Like any other fast growing and successful company, yours too, should have a mix of senior management being reasonably experienced and their job description should include mentoring element along with other KRA. Go a step further and integrate mentoring in appraisal process, each senior member of the team should name his mentees and help HR design a growth-tracking chart to assess mentees growth in the company.

Such a structured process can also prove helpful in succession planning of various departments and also saves you lakhs of Rupees on hiring people from outside to lead. Focus on creating on leaders from within as the growth happens.

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