Recruitment can be a minefield at the best of times, but when you are a startup and looking for your first ever workforce there is even more pressure to find the perfect people for the job or jobs you have on offer. It can be tempting to try and do it yourself, but you will be investing so much of your time in the process you could find yourself stretched in other areas. This is where a recruitment agency can help enormously as they have the expertise to find the best candidates quickly. However, if you are unsure or feel you can go it alone we’ve included a few tips we’ve learnt along the way.
While the UK job market is slowly recovering, we are still at the stage where numerous applicants are chasing one vacancy. If you have little or no experience of hiring you can be forgiven for being overwhelmed with all the CVs that come pouring in. By discussing your requirements with a recruitment agency they can put together an ad that instantly narrows down that field by appealing to your target audience. They can narrow it down further so all that's left for you to do is interview candidates with track records of excellence in your field. This can take literally days if you haven't done it before, and when you are trying to get a start up off the ground your precious time is much better employed elsewhere.
However, if you choose to go it alone you will need to thoroughly research the exact role you are looking to recruit for, you can’t be expected to be an expert in your chosen business and an expert in every other job role, that’s why you need a team in the first place. It is really important to look at the market in terms of the skills you need, the salary you will need to pay to get the right calibre of candidate and the personality match to fit your company. You will then need to write an advert to attract your ideal candidate.
Making your start-up stand out and attracting top applicants
The first thing people do these days is research the company advertising the vacancies. What do they find when they search a start up? Zilch. You rarely find the top end of the talent pool unemployed, and who is going to run the risk of leaving a secure job to join a start up?
This is where recruitment agencies come into their own by creating a real buzz around your business and catching the attention of those who you need to bring on board. You need to do your bit here by improving your own presence and prowess via LinkedIn, Twitter and other social channels. You will work with the agency to create a complete package that will ensure when you open your doors for business you have the wheat working for you and not the chaff.
Again, if you’re looking to do this yourself you will need to spend a lot of time and energy selling the story of your business across social channels, PR and one to one when discussing the role with candidates. This can be done using video interviews with your current team or the company founder, use images to show the working environment and blog to showcase your expertise, the end results should give potential candidates a real feel for who you are and what it would be like to work with you. It’s good practice to do this anyway regardless of whether you use an agency or not.
There is one thing guaranteed to put off potential candidates; a vague job description in the ad. People want to know what they will be doing and what their role will be, but that's harder to put into words than you think. If, for example, you are advertising for a software engineer, that covers such a huge range of duties that you need to pinpoint what the tasks will be included. Very often first time employers know what they want but lack the terminology to create a top quality, professional job advertisement or they are unsure of the exact skills needed, they know what the problem is but they don’t know the minute details of the skills needed to solve the issue.
Recruitment agencies do this for a living and churn out hundreds of ads a week. Specialised recruitment agencies also know their field well so understand the skills you will need to help solve your business problem and move your company forward. There will be no mistaking what your requirements are and those best qualified for your role will be the ones to apply.
It is not impossible to do this yourself, it is just time consuming. It is however important that you put in the ground work to really understand what you’re looking for or you will find yourself with under qualified candidates who on paper may look like they have everything but in reality can cause you more of a problem than they solve. The key here is research, talk to other businesses with the same issues and see how and what skills they needed to resolve them. Don’t be tempted to rush this process, a bad recruitment decision can be more costly that not hiring at all.
In an ideal world, and with the best staff onboard, you will soon be in a position to expand and hire more staff. Once you have established a relationship with a recruitment agency it's simply a case of giving them a ring and telling them what you are looking for this time. You can then relax in the knowledge that when you receive the list of potential interviewees you really do have the best people for the job waiting to meet you.
However, at this point if you have a greater understanding of the roles you need and the process of recruiting you may have more time on your hands to start the process yourself, especially for roles that are not uniquely specialist.