Startup recruitment is different and here are the things you should do differently


Here are the things you should be doing differently while hiring for startups

Startup hiring is not easy and every entrepreneur realises this in due time. The major problem is that we approach the task of hiring with a corporate mindset. Recruitment for startups is a continuous activity; it can not be a one-time recruitment drive.

Startup hiring is not just head-hunting. It starts with building trust (some call it recruitment branding), communicating well with potential candidates and then finding the right person who is equally passionate as you are. The three broad things an entrepreneur should understand to crack this problem

  • Building trust
  • Communicating with prospects
  • Identifying the right guy

A quick summary

Write a company story: People do not like reading JDs but they love to read stories about you and your company

Create differentiators: All possible differentiation that make your startup and working with it unique

Highlight your media mentions in all your communication.

Hire the right person: Passionate, intuitive, learners for the right reasons through the right methods

  1. Building trust

Startups lack credibility and the first thing founders need to do is build trust. One of the ways is through media coverage. Media is supposed to be trusted and if they write about you, it automatically gives you credibility. Many prospective candidates may not know about your investors but they definitely know about media publications. So you have to highlight media mention in all your communication.

What might not suffice: A sample of what won’t do

‘We are building a startup to work on a drone technology/machine learning to provide a particular service. We have started getting traction and now we would like to hire someone with a specific skillset. Please tag people you know.’

  1. Communicating with candidate

The key to attract right people is to have a clear and precise communication.

What you should do

Write a story-cum-job-description where you talk about:

  • Yourself (Who you are and why you started this particular startup)
  • What you want from the prospective candidate
  • What you will provide him/her
  • Why exactly he/she should join you
  • Why he/she should ignore you

What might not suffice

‘We need a rockstar PHP programmer for our high-growth startup. If interested, please mail your resume at

‘A funded startup from IIT/IIM/ XYZ alumni is looking to hire a marketing executive. Person should have startup attitude and willing to travel. Salary no bar for deserving candidate. Please write to us at

Write a company story - One of things that I highly recommend to all startups is writing a company story. There will be dramatic increase in the number of interested candidates if you have written a nice emotional story about your journey.

What might not suffice

Your ‘About us/ Who are we’ section

Create Differentiators - Startups/entrepreneurs continuously struggle to make their unique logic apply to hiring also. You need to be unique and for that you need to create strong differentiators. One thing which will never go out of fashion is working for your passion. For your startup, you need to find some strong differentiators. Your space/industry/domain is the biggest differentiator in itself. Apart from that you need to find other differentiators like founders’ profile, office location etc.

What might not suffice

‘We are a cool startup with flat structure and startup culture - wearing casuals, pizza party etc.’

  1. Identifying the right guy

This is the most difficult part and founders have to develop the knack of identifying people with the right intentions. Must-have qualities are:

  • Right attitude towards work
  • Taking ownership and initiatives
  • Willing to learn and adapt
  • Passionate and intuitive

What might not suffice

Please read my blog post - Two mistakes founders often make - where I explain more.

Trial period - Trial period is the best way to judge your prospect. In fact, it gives the prospect also a chance to judge you and make an informed decision. You should work with the prospect for some days in order to understand each other. It gives both parties a chance to learn working style, capabilities and attitude of the other.

What might not suffice

Just holding two-three rounds of interview/interaction. You also need to assess the execution part/compatibility/cultural fit etc.

For an early-stage startup, many things need to be done to figure out what is working. It is a dynamic situation and early teams should adapt and be willing to learn new things. Hiring for a role might make that person redundant after some time. Every candidate you meet will tell you that they want to join your startup because of accelerated learning. But you need to question their willingness to apply themselves and getting their hands dirty.

About the Author :

Nikhilesh runs, which helps startups find video makers. He also, in his part time helps startups in hiring ex-founders, co-founders and senior level guys at

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory)


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