How to Hire for Key Positions at Your Startup: Read These 15 Tips

15 Tips on How to Hire for Key Positions

Finding the right person to fill the key positions within your business startup is always a challenge. You want these new additions to the company to be successful early on, and for the long haul, so your startup can benefit from all they have to offer. That’s why we asked 15 entrepreneurs from Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) the following:

“What’s the key to lasting success when hiring for core positions within your startup?”

How to Hire for Key Positions

Here’s what YEC community members had to say:

1. Find People Who Believe in Your Mission

“The best people to recruit in a startup are those with a decent or strong foundation of skills who are eager and open to learning and more importantly, believe in the startup’s vision and leadership. If they truly believe in the mission, wake up excited every day and want to grow in your company, odds are they will stick around for years. Recruit those who believe in the mission and can be coached.” ~ Dan San, Meural

2. Look for the Whole Package

“In addition to achievements, experience and education, it is important to find employees with other professional and personal skills. When you are hiring for core positions, you want a person to be focused, flexible, innovative and have an attitude that matches your goals and culture.” ~ Blair Thomas, eMerchantBroker

3. Look for Self-Awareness

“Self-awareness is a core component to lasting success at a startup. Working at a startup is humbling. It quickly highlights the fact that you don’t have the answer to everything and need a learning mindset. Because of this, it’s important to hire people who are open to learning new things. If they don’t have this self-awareness, it can have a negative impact on company culture.” ~ Francois de Lame, Policygenius Inc.

4. Hire for Passion

“Never hire someone simply to give them a job. Hire someone who has a passion for what you do and who wants to help your company grow. There are other companies out there people can have if they “need a job” — yours doesn’t have to be one of them.” ~ Ben Landis, Fanbase

5. Look for Curious Go-Getters

“Finding curious and hungry people is key when you’re just getting started. During your first few years, there are a lot of bumps in the road and there are a lot of mistakes to be made. Finding people who embrace those ups and downs while working tirelessly to keep learning and growing is absolutely essential to your success. ” ~ Kevin Yamazaki, Sidebench

6. Hire Forward Thinkers

“While it is important to hire someone who shares your company’s vision and works well with others in the office, the aspect that ensures the highest likelihood of lasting success is to hire a forward-thinking individual. This is the person who plans several steps ahead and is always trying to find a way to improve their life and career. Foster a meaningful work relationship with these people.” ~ Bryce Welker, CPA Exam Guy

7. Check Their Track Record

“It’s worth the extra effort to dive into the details of their track record, and the best way to do that is to check multiple references, ideally from past supervisors. Ask for negatives as well as positives, and questions like “Where would you rank so-and-so on X?” Do a lot to force objectivity.” ~ Tim Chaves, ZipBooks Accounting Software

8. Have a Clear Structure

“You need to have a framework and structure, including formal policies, training and processes in place to help those in core positions know the limits and boundaries. ” ~ Cynthia Johnson, Bell + Ivy

9. Look for Quality Talent

“Finding someone who can check off the boxes of their responsibilities is good, but you want to hire someone who is a problem-solver and idea-oriented. Start-up businesses require employing a person who is creatively quick-witted and deals with unexpected changes head-on.” ~ Patrick Barnhill, Specialist ID, Inc.

10. Maintain Communication

“Maintaining communication in a clear and open way is vital for lasting success. It allows everyone to be heard and minimizes misunderstandings and problems. It’s basic, but often overlooked. ” ~ Drew Hendricks, Buttercup

11. Look for (Entrepreneurial) Experience

“Besides hiring the laborers, you want to hire executives and fill leadership roles with people who have experience in running a Kristopher Jones,

12. Focus on Adaptability Skills

“The roles and responsibilities will change for early hires, so finding people who can pivot and thrive with the inevitable changes of a startup is critical. When hiring, ask candidates how their career has progressed and look for clues of movement within the company. Such a track record is considered positive, and demonstrates if they can adapt to change in your own growing organization.” ~ David Ciccarelli,

13. Create the Right Environment

“Hiring the right people can be make or break for your chance of success in a startup. The key to success is creating an environment that ensures employees feel safe and secure in their role and are able to learn the Baruch Labunski, Rank Secure

14. Pay Attention to Stagnancy

“Stagnancy and the inability to pivot are the death chimes for any <business, especially a startup. Your core employees should not only be consistently striving to better themselves, they should also be working with you to improve the company. If they can grow with your <business, you have a team that won’t leave the moment the next shiny initiative comes along.” ~ Jen Brown, The Engaging Educator

15. Don’t Hire Unemployed People

“Headhunters exist because they spend ample time and resources building networks of the most professional people in their respective industries. Unemployed people are usually unemployed for a reason, and while some were laid off due to unforeseen circumstances, just as many are unemployed because they refuse to adapt to changes in the marketplace. Any startup needs the best people to succeed.” ~ Jason Criddle, Jason Criddle and Associates

Photo via Shutterstock

The Young Entrepreneur Council The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.