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How To Build a Team For Your Startup

You can’t have a successful startup without a solid team behind you.

Here are some tips on how to put together a team that will set up your startup for success.

Before you start hiring, conduct a Skills Gap Analysis to make sure you’re not hiring people you don’t actually need (see our separate blog on Skills Gap Analysis to see how to do this). This will also help you understand whether you need full time or part time people and when you want them to join. A part time seasoned executive with a good network, can add credibility to your business, help attract investors and provide you with a mentor or coach. They might even be prepared to invest (see bottom of this blog for more details)

How and Where to Recruit

There are plenty of ways you can find candidates for the positions you are looking to fill.


The most obvious solution may be to post a job offer on LinkedIn, Indeed or Glassdoor, or any other employment websites you know of.

But to guarantee that you are getting high-quality applicants responding to your job offer, you

need to craft an enticing and clear job posting.

How to write a job posting

-Make your job title as specific as possible. This will help you attract the most qualified job seekers.

-Write a captivating opener. Provide an exciting summary of your company and the role you’re offering.

-Don’t forget the essentials. Writing a well-crafted, exciting job offer is great, but don’t forget to include core responsibilities, day-to-day activities, hard and soft skills that are desired, and how the role fits into the rest of the company.

-Keep it concise. Realistically, job seekers are looking to apply for multiple jobs and have to read plenty of job offers, so writing a lengthy job posting isn’t going to help. According to Indeed’s data, job descriptions between 700 and 2000 characters get the most applications.

-Be upfront about pay. Ambiguous remuneration policies will exasperate candidates and make deter them from applying. Be clear about how much you are willing to pay, you can give a range. The key here is to make potential candidates feel like they’re not being ripped off. As a startup, it can be tricky to get enough funding to pay industry standard, but if you’re paying less than that, then the quality of your applicants might drop. Consider offering equity as part of the remuneration package – this can always be linked to performance and awarded over time. You can also introduce “clawback” clauses so you get the equity back if they leave under “difficult” circumstances – if you want further advice on this, contact Startup-Gurus.

-Don’t be too demanding. Yes, some skills are going to be essential for the position you are trying to fill, but make sure you differentiate between essential and desirable skills. Otherwise you might end up putting off potential applicants.

You can also be proactive, don’t just upload a job posting and wait for applications to roll in. You can browse online resumes yourself and reach out to people whose profile you think matches what your startup needs.

Leveraging Your Network

Reach out to former colleagues, or friends who you know are qualified for the position you’re looking to fill.

Leverage your social media presence if you have one, even if it’s your personal account. You can get staff to also share the job postings on their social media if they’re willing to. Who knows, maybe the perfect candidate is closer than you think.


Attend Industry-related events

Finding candidates online might be the quickest and most convenient method, but don’t underestimate the value of attending Industry-related events. This gives you the chance to really connect with people who are interested in your industry face-to-face, outside of an interview setting.


If you’ve already started working with developers / suppliers / manufacturers, they too can be a source of potential candidates. Reach out to them and ask informally if they will help.

Interview Techniques (For Employers)

Treat Candidates with Respect

This is one of the most common mistakes employers make.

Be respectful of applicants’ time, be hospitable, and make yourself available to them in case they have any questions.

Do your research

Just as you would expect applicants to look into your company, make sure that you’ve looked into them. This doesn’t mean stalking their social media, but definitely take a good look at their resume and maybe even make some notes on some specific questions you want to ask them based on their profile.

Include a peer

Let’s say you’re looking for a new backend developer to expand your team, but you aren’t a developer yourself. If you already have a backend developer working for you, bring them along to the interview. While you may be able to conduct the interview more efficiently, they will know what to look for in a qualified candidate and weed out the ones who are just using buzzwords to impress.

Prepare questions in advance

This might seem obvious, but it’s crucial so we had to include it. If you are interviewing multiple candidates, you will need a consistent set of questions to ask them so that you can effectively compare their answers and decide on the perfect person for the position.

Include a few behavioural questions to evaluate the candidates on more than just their work experience and qualifications. An example of a behavioural question would be something like: “Tell me of a time when you faced a challenge at work and what you did to overcome it”. You’ll have to tailor these questions based on the company culture you’re trying to develop, the values you consider important and what kind of candidate you are looking for.

Follow Up

Even if you decide a candidate isn’t a good fit for the job, take the time to tell them why not – don’t just leave them hanging, waiting to receive an email that never shows up. Down the line they might be the ideal candidate for what you need, so don’t burn that bridge.

It also says a lot about your organization as a whole, and could lead to referrals on their part. They might have a friend or two that are qualified for the job, you never know.

Job seekers attach a lot of importance to how they are treated during an interview process, so make sure they aren’t feeling disrespected or neglected, because they will tell their peers.

Interim Resources (part-time vs full-time) from SUGs

One of the many services we provide is interim resources – which can either be full time for a short period or part time open ended. If you’re looking for a specific area of experience, and don’t need it full time, a non-executive director or advisor could fit the bill. We have multiple candidates that would lend your startup the credibility and expertise you need to attract investments and grow your business. You might not need - or be able to afford - a full-time CEO / CFO / CMO / CIO (etc.), and that’s where we can step in and help you out. You might even find one interested in investing – we’ve placed several candidates into startups who’ve done just that! Contact us for more information.


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