From Planning Right to Assessing Skills: Advice from a Hiring Manager for Tech Startups

By Eximius Ventures | Posted On : 01/11/2021

Is hiring a challenge for startups? Are they finding it difficult to get the right hire? Ask any startup and the answer will be YES. Time is precious for a startup and as they start lifting off the ground, without a brand presence, hiring becomes more challenging. Getting new talent on board requires a lot of time and effort from the founding team or the acquisition team (if there is already one in place).

After helping tech startups attract and hire superior talent, I recognized some common problems. Here’s how we navigated them to make the best use of our efforts and time to hire the right talent at the right time:

  1. Lay Out a Plan

As a company starts to grow, the team rushes toward hiring people to get the work done without really understanding what they really need, by when they need it, and whether the hire is for short term or long term. This eventually leads to right people but at the wrong time. Thus, it becomes essential to lay out a plan filling these three points before reaching out to the talent pool.

  1. Hire Deliberately

You hire not just to fill a vacancy, but also to build a company. Avoid hiring people just because they’re good and available. Opportunistic or bad hires early on could increase the odds of failure. Beyond the cost of getting it wrong, your first few hires will set the tone for the future. Make your first 20 hires a result of due deliberation.

  1. Employer Branding

There’s more to social media hiring than tweeting your jobs. Everything you do or say on social media builds your brand. Your presence in communities, your reputation, and your ideas represent you. Use blogs, social media, and public conversations to stay connected to your ideal future hires.

  1. Hire for Potential

A successful startup will quickly outgrow everyone’s current skills and roles. If things work out as intended, it’s going to grow and morph unpredictably. So look for people who are about to enter their professional prime. 

Look for high achievers. The past is a good guide, so take into account lifetime achievements, whether they’re jobs, school performance, or hobbies. Even if they are not from a Tier 1 school, focus on what they have achieved during their time studying or working as well as their passion and keenness for what they are working on. 

  1. Hire for Attitude, Train for Skills

You have to like a candidate before you hire them. Someone’s ability to blend into your team, get along with you on a daily basis and build up some emotional reserves for tough times will ultimately determine their performance.

Focus on the fundamentals: Intelligence, personality, and diligence. Instead of testing for specific knowledge, check how a prospect reacts when you ask them to do something they haven’t worked on before.

  1. Job Descriptions

Convey the role very clearly, so that you not only save your time but that of applicants too. At a stage where your brand presence is still being built, it becomes vital to take care of your image amongst the applicants

Make every job description (JD) tempting. Start with the job title, keeping in mind that most job boards work like search engines, therefore candidates use keywords to search for jobs. The JD must be crafted in a way that it clearly mentions about your startup (1-2 lines), job responsibilities, requirements, and benefits provided.

  1. Stay Budget Friendly

Being a startup, setting out a hiring budget will create good looks in your finance books. Research about what market or competitors are offering and align it with what your business offers

  1. Job Post Platforms

If your business does not allow you to spend on consultants or paid hiring portals, you can use platforms like Indeed,, Updazz (for marketing and sales), AngelList, Instahyre, LinkedIn, Internshala (for interns), BigShyft, hirist, and Cutshort (for tech) to post a job for free and get access to high quality talent pool.

  1. Hire Through Referrals

Most founders get their first 10 hires through referrals and people who have worked with them in the past. This builds a strong team as the ones who get hired know the founder and can positively contribute to the culture.

  1. College Placement Cells

To hire some good fresh talent, you can also reach out to the placement cells of Tier 1 and Tier 2 colleges.

  1. Ask What Matters

During the screening call, ask questions that are relevant and result in specific, real examples that you can tie to competencies (scorecard).

  1. Support from VC

If you are a VC-backed startup, their connections could help you reach a great talent pool. I can wholeheartedly vouch for this one after helping tech startups hire as the Human Resources Lead of a micro VC (Eximius Ventures).