Recruit Like an Entrepreneur

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The economy is improving, and companies are hiring again. For startups and high-tech companies, there is still competition for top talent. They come with demands, higher price tags and a sense of entitlement. Get used to it.  In many cases, they have what you need, and instead of approaching hiring with a “you’re lucky to be considered for this job” attitude, you need to take a different approach.


This is a paradigm shift from the past years when applicants were plentiful and desperate. A Forbes article, “Entrepreneurial Recruiting: Staying Competitive When Staffing Top Talent,” gives tips on how thinking like an entrepreneur can help companies recruit great employees in a competitive market.


Even with the best technique and experience, recruiting remains a 50/50 proposition. With professionally crafted resumes, the Internet full of tips on interviewing and answering questions, and career consultants offering coaching and personal branding advice, it’s hard to know if you’re getting the real deal. Everyone makes a bad hire, but it’s never too late to improve your skills. Jenn Hanley, CEO and Co-creator of Fizziology, offered five tips on hiring the best, even if you’re a one-person company.


  1. Figure out why your company is special. Why should a talented individual choose you over the others? What benefits will the employee get from working for you, and what kind of future can they expect? Be honest. Don’t over-sell and under-deliver. Nothing kills a working relationship more than broken promises. But be sure you can offer what talented individuals are looking for—good benefits, a stable and enjoyable work environment, and career advancement.
  2. Make requirements flexible. A three-page job posting with 45 detailed requirements may make an employer feel secure, but can scare off talented people. On the other hand, if you do find that one candidate that fills every need, she’s going to be expensive, just like a rare gem. Go over your list of requirements. Are they all “must-haves” or are there a few “nice-to-haves?” Focus on fit. You can train someone on how to do something, but you can’t train someone to have a pleasant personality or be a self-starter. They either come with it or it’s not going to happen.
  3. Know what the job is worth and pay competitively. Don’t forget about benefits. Don’t believe the hype that young people don’t think about their futures. Not so. Offer fair compensation and an attractive benefits package.
  4. An ad in the local newspaper won’t get much response. Job postings on national job boards are a good investment, but be prepared to wade through hundreds (thousands) of resumes that may or may not have any relation to the job. Where do people spend their time? A lot of it is on social media. Post the job on LinkedIn, your Facebook page, Twitter, and any other sites frequented by people in your region or industry. Networking is still the best way. Just like the popular referral site, Angie’s List, getting a referral can shave off a lot of time vetting candidates.
  5. Interview with confidence. Decide beforehand what you’re looking for and don’t fall in love with a candidate because he’s in the same fraternity, lived in your hometown or was recommended by the boss or investor. Listen to your gut. It doesn’t lie. 


A candidate can have a killer resume, lots of references, an amazing portfolio and the ability to turn straw into gold, but if she doesn’t fit in with the rest of the team, she probably won’t last. A diverse work team is a good thing, but there has to be a synergy as well as talent to stay creative and productive. 


Image Source: renjith krishnan /


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