Hiring is arguably the most critical aspect of building a startup. The most successful startups are usually those who make intelligent hires. In an increasingly digital economy, hiring engineers have become even more critical than ever. Nowadays, every startup is expected to leverage technology irrespective of the service they are providing. As a result, the competition for engineers is very fierce, and most startups are struggling to hire competent hands because not all self-acclaimed engineers in the industry are qualified. Therefore, it is essential to find strategies that can help you as a founder hire the best engineers for your startup.
This article provides a practical blueprint for hiring engineers for a startup. If you are a startup founder or core team member of a startup, or maybe you are just planning to launch your startup, you will find this blueprint helpful in making the right decisions.
Identify the need
As was already outlined above, every startup needs a technical hand these days, but one has to remember that the needs of each company vary. Understanding the unique technological needs of your startup is the first and most important aspect of recruiting engineers. It doesn’t matter how much money you have raised from investors; it is vital to identify the quality and expertise of engineers that you need. If you don’t first examine your startup’s needs concerning your product road map and the company’s size, you can ‘over-hire’ or ‘under-hire’. This means that you can hire qualified engineers you don’t necessarily need or hire engineers that are not qualified for your necessary needs.
Hire for culture fit
It’s hard to blame many founders for hardly thinking about organizational culture because they are caught up with trying to make the company survive. However, hiring the most talented engineers who do not fit into the values and culture of your company can be the downfall of your company. Therefore, you have to define your company’s culture and the values every team member must uphold. Your hiring process becomes more deliberate as you try to avoid hiring people who can draw your organization backwards with their attitude and actions.
Leverage on Personal Networks
As a startup founder, you may have probably worked with some engineers before or have some of them as close friends. To leverage these personal networks is an important step that founders need to seek first to maximize. Reaching out to engineers you have worked with will save you a lot of problems associated with recruitment.
The main advantage is that you are confident of what you are getting from that person. This assurance of the person’s qualities goes beyond their technical expertise and includes their work ethics. These people are also more likely to trust you and stick with you when it gets tricky because you share a history.
Recommendations From Industry Friends
Many founders also underrate the value of their ‘industry friends’. Industry friends here refer to others operating in the same tech space who will make objective recommendations and not one based on emotions. These people could be investors funding your startup or other founders of successful or fast-growing startups. The advantage of seeking these recommendations is that it gives you a chance to hire industry-proven people because these ‘industry friends’ are more likely to refer reliable engineers to you.
Investors, in particular, are very helpful in this regard, and it’s a little bit worrying that most startups don’t leverage their partnerships with investors. These investors have most likely funded other startups and are aware of the talent pool in the industry. Investors are also very interested in the success of your startup and, as such, would want to ensure that they refer the most qualified and dependable technical hands. Asking industry friends also helps you save money associated with leveraging talent agencies or other forms of recruitment expenses.
Use a recruiter or a marketplace
This method is probably the least advised but might be inevitable because of the shortage of technical talents. A technical recruiter is someone you hire to help find engineers for your startup. You would pay a recruiter to hire based on your preferences and need. While this ensures that you would be getting a professional who knows how to recruit and would dedicate more time than yourself in the hiring process, the recruiter would mostly use cold sales methods, which means you would most likely not be entirely confident of the ethics or behavioral tendency of the prospective hire.
Founders can also make use of tech talent marketplaces. For example, marketplaces like Andela and Gebeya have become very important in reducing the tech talent gap in developing regions like Africa. At the same time, marketplaces like Hitch have also done commendable work in more developed tech ecosystems like the US.
The competition for engineers keeps increasing, and startups have to be intelligent and strategic because they have to contend that they have a limited budget and cannot even promise prospective hires that they will eventually be successful. Therefore, startups must leverage reliable networks when hiring engineers and seek other platforms or marketplaces that can be helpful.
Startups must also think long term and remember that hiring would have a temporary effect and have profound future implications. Therefore, startups must seek to hire engineers that fit the company’s culture. A startup must also establish a scalable hiring process that considers future technical needs and how future recruitment would be carried out.