Recruitment is an exciting prospect for every start up business that’s reached the point of needing additional hands on deck. But, if you’ve spoken to other business owners who’ve already been there, it’s likely they’ve told you how challenging it is to attract and to retain the right people for your business.

Working for a startup business isn’t for everybody.

There’s the perception that it lacks the pay, perks, structure, and opportunities available at large, established corporate companies and that  new starters are thrown in at the deep end with little training and left to sink or swim because the business owners don’t have the time to invest in the people they expect a great deal of. 

It’s well worth thinking about these top tips for hiring and retention to avoid or minimise the likelihood of a painful recruitment and attrition experiences and in addition, they may cause significant damage to the employer branding you’re just starting to establish.


  • Know who you’re looking for  – A useful starting exercise is to draw up your ideal candidate persona or avatar. Exactly as you may have done with ideal customer profiles, just from a different angle.  It’s important to consider the key attributes and skills that are important for the right match. The important attributes to consider are specific skills, knowledge, work experience and where required qualifications and education. 


  • Highlight what makes your startup different – This is your opportunity to really shine, to sell your business to your ideal candidates. You may not have fully established employer branding yet, but you should be taking all necessary steps to showcase your business  as a great place to work. You may wish to pitch the growth potential of your business to prospective investors. Plus, your public branding i.e. what’s already out there in the public domain, such as your website, your social media accounts, any press coverage you’ve had, or podcasts you’ve recorded. 


  • Be transparent in your job advertisement – Honestly is always the best policy. So, be completely upfront about the location of the role, benefits, KPIs, pay, training, and work/life balance. Some businesses advertise that salaries are negotiable based on experience but this can be seen as they’re looking for the best possible candidate for the least possible remuneration. It doesn’t create an impression of credibility and transparency to entice the best talent on the market to apply.


  • Don’t bypass the onboarding process – With the interviews and niceties over, your onboarding process is the first clear impression your successful candidate will form of the reality of life at your business. Make it a great one with clear, quality communication from the pre-start period. Can they complete new starter forms, have a copy of your Company Handbook, and other reading materials to look through before their first day? Can you set up their login to your diary management system, so they can see pre-scheduled meetings they’ve been invited to attend, and their training plan. In the current climate, do you have a Plan A and a Plan B in place for on-site in-person onboarding, or remote onboarding due to Covid restrictions? 


  • Set clear targets and incentivise employees to meet them – Reward and recognition is key to employer branding. It’s super important for startup businesses, where life isn’t perceived to be as glamorous as it might be with a larger corporate company. Startups do often expect more for less from their people. So, it’s retention critical that you regularly acknowledge and reward their contributions to your overall business success. This might be financial incentives or other non- financial options.

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