Future of work

A recruitment expert on 4 key areas founders struggle with when hiring

- October 25, 2023 4 MIN READ
Employment, interview, job
Source: AdobeStock
It is no secret that the success of any startup lies in the hands of its people – the passionate, talented individuals who bring visions to life and drive innovation.

But with limited resources, fierce competition and the constant battle between time and talent, finding and retaining those people can be a huge challenge. 

We’ve worked with countless start up leaders on establishing and growing their hiring functions and have collected our thoughts into four key areas with which many struggle.

Here’s how you can overcome these hurdles and get ahead.


Quality hires are the backbone of your startup’s journey.

As the famous saying goes, “If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional, wait until you hire an amateur.”

However, the challenge lies not just in finding any quality professional but in finding the right people, at the right time who help you achieve your business objectives.

One of the common struggles startup founders face in this area is identifying and attracting the right people for your specific business.

We’ve seen many startup founders hire wildly talented subject matter experts who unfortunately aren’t right for the unique culture of startups.

While skill is undeniably important, it’s essential to bring on board people with the competencies and working traits that suit the environment. 

A mis-aligned key hire at the wrong moment can significantly put back your ability to meet your business objectives and achieve the goals necessary for the next round of funding.

A clearly defined and communicated vision, mission, employee value proposition and honest set of values goes a long way to get your hiring going in the right direction.

Adding a qualified Talent Acquisition Partner with the time and ability to work with your hiring leaders and get consensus on the next hire makes this a reality.


Having well-defined and structured hiring processes is essential for startups. These processes ensure efficiency, consistency, fairness and compliance.

By implementing robust and standardised processes, you can maximise your recruitment efforts, maintain a positive employer brand and ensure that precious time and resources are not being wasted.

Before you commence recruiting, be clear and upfront about what your process entails. Don’t wing it and hope for the best, as it both looks unprofessional and lengthens the process.

Ensure you have the budget and a clear plan before you start screening, so that you can make a job offer in a timely fashion. Otherwise, you risk losing out on your preferred candidate.

Well-considered talent processes can be the difference between securing top talent or going back to the drawing board.

Remember, these can be the first window into your company’s culture, so take time to ensure they are an accurate reflection of the environment.


A well-considered tech stack is an essential part of enabling a startup’s success in a competitive talent market.

A tech stack may support moments that matter such as sourcing, application and candidate management, reference and background checking, onboarding, and candidate experience, right through to employee relations, contract management, L&D, payroll, leave management, performance management and engagement.

We often see businesses struggling with incomplete or disparate tech stacks. This causes a number of difficulties for the hiring process: double handling, no visibility for hiring managers, no reporting, the list goes on.

Ultimately, all of these issues result in a slow process which can mean missing out on getting that perfect candidate over the line. 

Cost shouldn’t be a barrier here. While many tools require an investment, a well-organised and integrated stack can be put together that meet a company’s initial needs without much outlay.

As you scale you may need to replace certain elements with more flexible and configurable systems.


There’s much more to brand than a nicely designed logo.

While many startup founders have spent a lot of time thinking about their customer brand, many overlook the importance of their employer brand – which is sharing a different message to potentially a different audience.

A strong employer brand starts with a compelling Employee Value Proposition (EVP).

Essentially there are 5 core elements of an EVP: compensation, benefits, career & development, work environment and culture. Ensuring you are hitting all these elements in your EVP will help you attract talent, keep employees engaged and drive business outcomes. 

On a more tactical front, don’t phone it in when it comes to job ads. We see so many job ads that are just regurgitated job descriptions, and that’s not going to attract the best candidates.

Job ads need to sell the company, the vision, and the growth available to whoever joins. That’s what will excite those highly skilled and ambitious applicants.

Think less boring responsibility lists and more exciting, value-driven, conversational points about what success looks like. You don’t sell a Mars Bar by publishing a list of its ingredients.

Hiring is a zero-sum game

A critical mistake is overestimating how much time and influence you think you’ve got. If your candidate attraction strategy isn’t reaching the best in the business, and if your recruitment process doesn’t enable you to move quickly once you think you’ve found the right person, chances are someone else will have gladly snapped them up instead.

Despite the headlines which might suggest a flood of talent; the best people will always be in demand. 

If you could use some help with one or more of these areas, reach out – we can help.

You can also check out our A-Z Hiring Guide for startups here.


  • Tom Mackintosh is the managing director of Talent Solutions
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