One of the biggest challenges for any fast-growing startup is hiring skilled employees.
“When your company is in hypergrowth, a pipeline of skilled employees isn’t optional—it’s a requirement,” says Profit Magazine, which compiled three tips for startups facing this challenge as part of its annual Profit 500 rankings.
1. REWARD REFERRALS—SMARTLY.
Many firms struggle to make employee-referral programs work, usually because workers worry that when recommended candidates fail to work out, it reflects poorly on the referrer.
One company formalized the process in a way that motivates all parties. Calgary’s Northridge Energy Development Group gives employees up to $6,000 for a successful referral, but the payout is spread over a year. This encourages the referrer to collect the full bonus and the referral to do right by the friend.
“It’s a retention tool, too,” explained CEO Jonathan Ouellette to Profit. And with a successful referral program implemented, the fees paid to referrers are always less than the fees a company would have to pay a recruiter.
2. STAND OUT TO STUDENTS.
Appealing to potential workers while they’re still in school is a great tactic, but traditional methods are no longer effective. Profit Magazine recommends skipping the fold-up table with a box of brochures and instead engaging with students on a richer level.
For example, one company’s CEO participates in roundtable discussions at multiple universities, becoming top of mind for students in an entirely unobstrusive manner. Another company worked with a university to develop a program through which students can still earn their education while working.
3. APPEAL TO ENTREPRENEURIAL IMPULSES
Think everyone is excited by the corporate ladder and the stability of giant companies? Think again. Own the fact that you’re a startup, embrace the entrepreneurial culture of your company, and you’ll draw an amazing crowd of talent.
According to Profit, the most motivated self-starters value the ability to make a real difference—they don’t want to have responsibility that begins and ends with the next person in the chain. To filter out those who won’t be good fits, ARTE Group CEO Boaz Shilmover recommends an interview process that sees how well someone may align with a smaller, more nimble company. For example, Shilmover begins interviews by explaining his company’s bootstrapping history. “If the person’s eyes glaze over, he knows they’re unlikely to be a good fit,” explains Profit.
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