You created a tech company, and it has finally started to bring in money – now the business needs to expand. It’s time for your business to hire its first employees. Finding out who these people will be is to understand what tech startups look for in employees.
While it is essential to add more talent to your team, money is usually tight if you are a startup company. Therefore, you need to find people with the proper skillset and willing to work within your budget. The vetting process may take more time to get the suitable candidates in.
Hiring for a tech startup company varies from recruiting for a more prominent firm. Employees at startups contribute more to the company’s direction in the immediate future and inject innovation.
Besides, employees at this stage will juggle multiple responsibilities. There are no fixed job descriptions.
Getting the imperfect hire at the early stages of your tech startup business can cost your company time and other resources. The perfect fit should entail employees willing to stick it out and help you grow the business together.
But where do you find what tech startups look for in employees? How do you get past a person’s cover letter and resume and find the character of the right applicant?
What tech startups look for in employees?
The employees you hire should satisfy the primary needs of your business. It means you should look for specific values. These include:
Humility is essential for every startup employee. There are many things to learn, and you can only do this if you set your ego aside. While smartness is a thing of admiration for every employee, ego can prevent them from learning new things or accepting their ignorance.
Humility doesn’t mean having timid employees afraid to voice their thoughts. Humility means avoiding ego battles in boardroom meetings.
Confident employees can still be humble and have conflicting ideologies in meetings. But if you have a boardroom full of egoistic staff, your business environment will grow hostile with the misdirected competition.
If employees lack humility, they rarely take responsibility or own up to mistakes. Their ego prevents them from asking for help from other colleagues or becoming team players.
Startup employees should be ready to pitch in on new ideas at any time or level as required, even if they have different opinions.
Check out, How do tech startups raise money?
Like humility, empathy doesn’t seem like much, but you need one critical value in your tech startup team. Because of the nature of the business, you need employees that have compassion. These are individuals that can make connections with fellow employees.
Empathy nurtures leadership since individuals are willing to create deep bonds and trust necessary for the business in the future. An environment of mutual support and respect fosters a healthy drive to achieve success as a team.
Instead of unhealthy competition amongst individuals, you have a team that pushes each other to improve the business and help it meet its objectives.
Finding empathy while recruiting new hires depends on the vibe you get from the candidate in the interview room. Body language and eye contact are critical determinants.
Your tech startup business needs employees that love what they do. Passionate individuals in your tech team will create an environment that is productive and driven. When people enjoy what they do, work becomes fun.
Surround yourself with individuals that share your passion. Your first tech startup employees should possess innovative abilities to drive your business in the direction you envision. If you have a shared drive and passion, the team develops commitment and enthusiasm in achieving the company’s vision.
As you build your business foundation and culture, passion gels different individuals to achieve similar goals.
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4. Team Players
Collective strength is an emphasis for every tech startup business. Your first hires should be people who possess extraordinary individual abilities and cope in a collaborative environment. Look for people that push one another to achieve individual and collective success.
Diverse opinions and professional disagreements will always be there. However, mature employees can shelve their personal beliefs and work as a team to deliver the company’s objectives.
Team players have collaborative tendencies and support colleagues’ views even if they are of the contrary opinion to theirs. Because collective success ensures business growth, team players are individuals that take advantage of strengths among their colleagues.
But how do you know if a candidate is a team player?
In the interview process, ask questions that make the employees describe their work environment. These are questions like;
- Can you describe your past work environment?
- What is the best workplace environment you have ever worked for?
- What do you look for in a work environment? etc.
Analyze the candidate’s answers and determine if they relate to an individual that possesses collaborative tendencies. Your tech startup business must hire individuals who understand that collaboration is a component for developing a winning team.
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5. Analytical Skills
Tech startup companies, like other startups, also have challenges at the initial stages. It is an anticipated problem that you can solve by hiring employees with problem-solving and analytical skills.
By default, your first hires form the cofounding team. They will set the business tone and determine growth.
While you need candidates with technological skills, it is not enough for tech startup companies. You need candidates with multiple abilities to meet daily business objectives. Have in mind that tech startup companies may lack proper processes.
However, it is imperative that startup businesses become flexible and have speed as an advantage. Too much structure will mean redundant employees that delay the work process.
Tech startups operate in a competitive world that demands constant creativity to survive. Candidates that think on their feet can quickly adapt to situations in time. To achieve this in an employee, look for people that have a better understanding of your tech business.
Consider employees with strategic capabilities to hack business growth but also possess design and technical development abilities. It would be best to have a team with cohesion to have a competitive advantage over your established business rivals.
How to identify candidates with analytical skills
It is not challenging to find candidates with analytical capabilities if you know what you are looking for. You can start by asking leading questions.
- What challenges have you helped solve in your previous organization?
- Create hypothetical scenarios and see how the candidate reacts to solving the problem.
It is an advantage to have resilient employees when your building your tech startup company. Resilience means the ability to stay calm under challenging work conditions and periods of uncertainty for the business.
It means handling challenges with calmness and not letting them affect your work output and performance. If candidates lack resilience, they develop an attitude of irritability, tension, poor performance, and fear.
Such traits may affect other employees and lead to a general drop in employee morale and output.
When looking for employees with a resilient attitude, check if they are confident in demeanor. Ask the questions that the candidates will probably lack answers to.
How do they react?
Avoid candidates that dodge or ridicule the question. If they can admit they don’t know, it shows personal confidence to admit ignorance.
How to find resilience in candidates?
Develop questions that require the candidate to portray some evidence of grit. For example
- How have they helped previous organizations avert disaster?
- Have they ever taken any significant risks?
- What comebacks have they ever pulled after suffering a crisis in the past?
Resilience is seen in confident people who possess self-belief because they have some experience in the industry. However, be careful not to hire over-confident people that carry an aura of arrogance. It would be best if you had a team of team players and not people after personal glory.
While resilient people will try to handle adversity, they should be confident enough to ask for help when facing challenges beyond their current capabilities.
Also, check out, 16 Best Employee Benefit packages for Startups.
7. Look for Intrapreneurs
Whereas tech startup companies need employees with technological understanding, you need them also to have an entrepreneurial spirit. Your company needs innovative and creative ideas to grow further.
Tech startup companies find more success by supporting employees that harbor entrepreneurial ambitions. During the interview process, ask candidates for suggestions they can bring onboard to improve the company in various aspects.
Ask questions that test creative problem-solving abilities. Instead of asking for ideas, ask for plans that can improve specific areas of the company.
Importance of Hiring the Right Startup Employee Roles
A major focus in startup tech employees is the roles each will play to strengthen both your internal and external relationships. That is employee to employee and employee to customer/client relations.
Management issues threaten the success of all startup businesses. Your first hires should be candidates with strong leadership skills and direction.
When choosing your first employees, you should consider your tech business values and goals. It will help you narrow down the list of candidates.
In addition to the values an employee should possess, these are the roles your tech startup company should fill in first.
- Chief Executive Officer (CEO) / Chief Operations Officer (COO)
While the roles are separate, startup companies can have one individual that assumes both roles. Typically, a CEO is a person that directs the company to achieve its vision while maintaining its culture. A COO’s primary focus is to run its daily operations and keep the business in touch with its objectives.
- Product Manager
The product manager focuses on the product that your company deals in. The position needs an individual that knows product strategy, development, and vision. The person should liaise with the marketing and engineering teams to develop market your product.
- Chief Technology Officer (CTO)
Tech startup companies need an individual that specializes in technological advancements. It would help if you looked for candidates that can determine what the business needs to integrate various management systems.
It means having adept knowledge in software, hardware, and mobile technological advancements.
- Chief Marketing Officer (CMO)
Look for a candidate that will focus on how your client or customers view your service or products. Here the candidate should have promotional and marketing skills to reach and engage a broad audience.
The candidate should also design, write copy, landing pages, social media experts, and run ad campaigns.
- Sales Manager
It would be best to have a sales manager who understands tech products and services when running a tech startup business.
The sales manager should bring in new leads and more money for your business. The role of a sales manager is crucial and probably the most challenging to fill.
A good sales manager will generate more sales making it possible for your company to grow and get more employees.
- Customer Service Representative
All companies need a customer service representative to build positive and long-term relations with their customers. Customer representatives also help to build and maintain your companies brand image.
Even if your tech services or products are excellent and superior, if you can’t communicate with your customers, they won’t identify with your brand.
Customer representatives handle customer queries, concerns, and the business’s external reputation. It is a role that you must fill when hiring your first employees.
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Finding the right first employees to hire for your startup tech company is challenging. It needs time and proper planning to find a set of individual players who can fit in a team and still excel.
Your first employees should have admirable personal values as well as exemplary academic and technological qualifications. Employers that possess these values are best for long-term contracts.
When hiring, consider filling the core roles of your business with internal employees. As a startup tech company, you can outsource some of the roles from freelancers as you slowly build and grow your business.
Your first employees must possess the correct values because they act as co-founders who will influence your business’s culture. They should be enthusiastic individuals laden with creative and innovative abilities to ensure business success.
Bijay is an entrepreneur and start-up founder having more than 14 years of IT industry experience. He is the co-founder of TSInfo Technologies, a SharePoint development company.
A dedicated professional and very passionate about public speaking and also wrote thousands of technical blogs in various technologies. He also wrote a lots of blogs on entrepreneurship, investment, startup, business, manage money tips, etc.