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The 5 Recruiting Skills You Need for Startup Hiring

Morgan Lichtenstein
5 min read

Getting your startup off the ground is probably going to take more than just you. 

You may be dreaming of a team of dedicated, passionate, and talented individuals to help you succeed. So how do you find these perfect employees? You’re going to have to recruit them.

To recruit employees for a startup, you need to have strong attention to detail, marketing and communication skills, relationship-building skills, and a lot of patience. You’ll need to know who you’re hiring and where they’re coming from to ensure you’re getting the best person possible for the job.

Here’s what you need to know about recruiting for a startup.

How to recruit for startups

Recruiting for startups is different from being a recruiter for a large, established company. 

You’re probably looking for people who can add to your business and actively change it to make it flourish. Because of this, you may need to pay particular attention while creating and following your recruitment strategy.

Remember, nearly everything you do in a startup is about growth and support. Recruitment is no different.

Building the recruiting funnel

Recruitment can be challenging without a set plan to bring the best candidates into the process and keep them interested. Your funnel can aim to address the candidate’s needs from start to finish.

  1. Build awareness. Awareness of your brand helps candidates to know your startup exists.
  2. Attract quality candidates. This can be achieved by clearly advertising the role and how it could benefit a potential applicant. 
  3. Receive applications. Interested candidates seek more information and apply.
  4. Screen and interview applicants. Select candidates who match your needs and begin the interview process.
  5. Review applications. Keeping candidates informed at this stage can be good practice. 
  6. Choose applicants. Select the most suitable candidates and offer them positions.

Having a concise and pleasant recruitment process can help build your brand later on, as even those who do not get offers - but still had a positive experience with your brand - can act as a word-of-mouth advertisement that builds your recruitment network.

Cultivating your brand

To incentivize potential candidates to work with you, it helps to have a strong brand. 

This could look like dedicating your time to creating a summary of your startup that includes all of its key features, such as:

  • What your startup does
  • Why you do it, or your mission statement
  • Your core company values
  • How you’re planning to grow

This summary can be adapted to suit your promotional strategy. This might mean creating social media content based around it to advertise the open position, developing it into a networking handout for job fairs and conventions, or creating a dedicated web page to link back to.

Highlighting these points in your hiring process can help to attract candidates that connect with your startup’s mission and culture and can give them confidence that your startup will succeed.

Understanding the skills you need

There are two kinds of job skills you may want to assess in the hiring process: hard and soft. 

Hard skills are based on learned ability. These are things like work background, level of education, years of experience, and specific training. 

Soft skills, on the other hand, are non-technical skills that influence how a person interacts with their work. These include intuition, adaptability, stress management, and emotional control.

Creating a specific and detailed list of the hard and soft skills that your perfect candidate would ideally have can be a great way to accurately recruit for your specific needs. 

Learning how to find those skills in your candidates

Asking relevant and informative questions during the application and interview process can help you to assess your candidates’ skills.

You can gather their work history and education level from their resume, so focusing your interviews on assessing their soft skills - maybe by asking about challenges they’ve faced and accomplishments they’re proud of - can provide further insight into how they would perform in the role. 

You can also employ the use of assessments for job performance predictors, such as cultural fit assessments, personality questionnaires, and situational judgment tests.

Onboarding responsibly

You may want to have a plan for your onboarding process before you reach the point where you have recruits to onboard. 

It can help to create a written outline of your new employee’s initial trial period, complete with a detailed list of responsibilities and contacts within the startup that they can turn to for guidance or review.

It may also be beneficial to both of you to implement a trial period for new hires that works both ways. Offer an open environment that allows them to assess their own comfort levels with the startup’s culture and the workload, as well as giving you the time to see how well they suit your needs. 

Even if they choose not to stay or do not fit well with your team, having a positive leaving experience can mean they are more likely to encourage other potential candidates to work with your company, which further expands your recruitment network.

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The 5 recruiting skills you need when hiring for startups

Though you’ll be looking for skills in your candidates, there are five skills that you may want to focus on in yourself to optimize the recruitment process. 

Here are the five recruiting skills you need for startup hiring.

Attention to detail

Creating specific plans that identify key factors, and then applying these in order to fill the position as well as possible is a key part of recruiting. Being detail-oriented can help to make your plans be focused and effective as you bring new people into your company.

Paying close attention to detail can mean you catch the small things that might slip by recruiters in larger companies, such as being aware of how your brand is projected in the recruitment process, and how well candidates are responding to it even after the process ends. 

Marketing skills

One way to think of recruitment is as another facet of marketing at its core.

Studies have found that job listings that put an emphasis on selling a company’s culture rather than the position on its own tend to be far more successful. With this in mind, effectively promoting your brand to recruit may be a key area to focus on. 

You’re selling your brand and its benefits to someone who will - hopefully - help it grow and develop. You can market it as you would any other product - honestly, sincerely, and in a positive light. Strong brand management and effective, consistent advertising schedules can play a key role in finding and retaining appropriate talent.

Communication skills

Clearly informing your candidates about the position they’re applying for, and receiving feedback from them, can improve your recruiting process dramatically. 

Being able to communicate clearly and professionally can improve your recruitment analytics by providing you with more information to work with. 

Communication isn’t just about nitty-gritty details about job responsibilities and analytical data. It’s also about talking plainly and listening to what people are saying. You’re in charge of telling your brand’s story to your recruits, and telling it in an engaging and motivating manner can drive candidates to be just as passionate about your startup as you are.

Relationship building skills

For a startup, networking can be essential. 

To grow as a company, you will likely need support from people across your industry and even beyond it. Honing your skills for connecting and keeping contact with other professionals means that you’ll actually be able to find candidates with the skills and experience you need to get your company off the ground.

Building these relationships can also improve your brand image. Asking questions about the experience and changing it based on feedback can show your network that you’re responsible. Actively adapting your company’s plans based on the needs of your candidates demonstrates that you value feedback. 


Recruitment can be a time-consuming and highly selective process. 

It’s likely going to take a significant amount of time to do right and can be disastrous if done wrong. You’re aiming to hire someone to help you build a company from the ground up; rushing the process might mean recruiting someone who doesn’t work well with you or your brand and having to let them go and start all over again.

Try to be patient with the process, and take your time in selecting a candidate who absolutely fits your needs. It may well be worth the wait. What’s more, a solid recruitment system is likely to continue to benefit you in the future as your business grows. 

Final thoughts

There is no one who wants your startup to succeed more than you. 

You may want to bring on as many people as quickly as possible to grow your startup, but that likely isn’t going to give you lasting stability.

Your startup is only as good as the people who build it, so you probably want to be sure you’re picking the best people. Take your time to build your brand, then share that brand with other industry professionals to find like-minded people you can work with to grow your company over time.

Recruitment can be daunting, but as long as you’re prepared, diligent about the experience, and consistent in your results, you’ll be able to cultivate a network of people who are rooting for you to succeed. If you need an extra helping hand, check out Hunt Club to discover how technology can take your recruiting process to the next level.

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