In 2019, 63% of startups claim that access to talent as their most critical issue and I don’t see the talent issue getting better in 2020…
There are reasons and theories as to why, but here are my top 4 reasons why startups struggle to find top talent.
1–They do not look hard enough and settle for the brother and sister-in-law discount.
In the beginning journeys of a startup, the founders and early-stage executives are moving fast and have little time, let alone time to let an open position sit for 2-3 months while they search for the big hire so they take the easy route and hire their friend or family member for less money.
This works in the beginning but doesn’t scale as it grows in revenue and size. The brother in law’s work doesn’t match up to some hungry guy/gal looking to change the world and make your company better.
2–The executive team thinks their company is the next Amazon, Facebook, Google, etc. They are biased. If you are a start-up, assume nobody knows your company. You will need to spend most of your time selling the vision and purpose of your company to potential recruits. Do not think because you got $25M in funding that everyone wants to work at your company or want to work as hard as you do. You haven’t achieved anything other than more headaches, board meetings and drama with more VC funding. Stay humble, work harder.
3–Bad leaders. Many start-ups are full of first-time managers, rookie executives and they have bad behaviors. They think they have made it in life and blame everyone but themselves. This scares people away and makes their talent problems even harder. This is when some training in coaching or leading can be beneficial. Do it now, not when you have problems too.
4–Little investment into HR or Recruiting. I’m not tooting my own horn as a recruiting pro here. Too often, I see the inexperienced office manager get put into a lead talent (HR or Recruiting) role and things get worse. This leads to people not respecting the function and the person in the role delivers little to the business, other than jeans Friday, and the start-up struggles to find talent. Who would want to work for a startup when the Head of Talent reaches out to you like they are high on Gary V. videos…
It doesn’t have to be this way. There will always be annoyances with recruiting and talent, even after your big A, B, C round, etc. but change your mindset with recruiting and treat it just as important as scaling your product.
In the early stages and all stages for that matter – recruiting is a total team effort from sourcing to interviewing – make talent not your issue and you will be in a good place to make things work for you.
Ben Martinez – family guy, coffee critic, planker, and HR & Recruiting journeyman. He has successfully worked in HR leadership roles around the US and Mexico for Fortune 500 companies (Pepsi, Honeywell, and Energizer). Most recently he was the VP of People & Culture for HireVue, where he hired 400+ people in almost five years using video, social media, and created the employment brand, VueNation in partnership with HireVue.
Ben now runs his own consulting company, Ramp Talent, where they ramp recruiting and HR for startups. From recruiting ready-to-go talent to implementing ongoing best practices to preventing legal headaches, we build the first HR and recruiting systems for fast-growing startups.
PS – coffee is for closers – Ben founded an e-commerce subscription coffee company focused on re-imagining coffee in the workplace and home – Sumato Coffee Co. They only roast your beans within 48 hours of your order.
Ben lives in the SLC, Utah area.