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“Look for diversity among team members, but aim for a shared cultural mindset inside the company”.– Isai Suárez
Contxto – As of now, I started the hiring process for Contxto. I’m looking for writers, designers and content producers. So, in order to have the fewest amount of mistakes, I reached out for hiring advice to a friend of mine, Isai Suárez, the founder behind the successful jewelry company, Maison Mezcal.
The first thing he wanted to clarify before even starting the interview was that “there’s no way your going to do it perfectly the first time”. However, there are some ways in which first time hiring could be a smoother, better process.
Isai believes hiring, especially at the very start of your company, should be a handcrafted process. You should not hire for the sake of doing so, and you should factor in every single detail of your current workload status.
Ask yourself questions like: Am I solo-founding or is my co-founder splitting the work with me? What activity takes the most time out of my day? Am I really putting in the work right now, or can I still handle this for now?
Be completely honest with yourself and take action based on your own conscious answers.
2) Define the profile you’re looking for
This is more than just writing down responsibilities and qualifications needed. It means, asking yourself a bunch of questions (again).
What’s your current budget? Are you considering hiring students/interns? Are you offering something else other than a salary? What about work environment, aspirations inside the company, stock options?
Hiring students could be a valid alternative to unload some of the grunt work, but also to teach, inspire and create brand loyalty from the very scratch. Sure, they might need constant coaching and revision, but you can teach them your way instead of having people arrive with their own preconceptions.
However, the downside is actually the same as the upside, if you hire experienced people, they might be able to be much more helpful in times of crisis and you might be able to hand out more responsibility to them. It’s always a tradeoff, and I’m afraid that’s up to you, folks!
3) Prioritize attitude over skill
He mentioned how at the beginning it’s super important to focus on attitude and the willingness to be working for the same vision as you are, rather than hiring because someone is good at *insert any specific skill.
Your first hires are going to be your tribe leaders, your war generals, your handguns, and the ones that set the tone for the company culture once it starts to grow. During crisis, would you have any issues staying in a bunker with those people? That analogy isn’t that far from the truth. So keep that in mind.
Also, check out Isai’s book recommendation: Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek.
4) Inspire them with your vision
Make them love your purpose. Most startups live at the edge, meaning that they’re counting their days all the time. So, if a great pay isn’t going be your secret card to get them to stay, you’ll have to provide something else.
Of course, there are some people who would ask for extra vacations or being able to drink while at work. But you’ll have to really improve your communication skills to be able to enamore them with your mission, instead of just basic benefits. Make them feel as if you guys are on a quest to changing your community, your industry, or even the world.
Not only that, but make sure their contribution is actually helping, or having direct impact in the company. If they feel useful, they’re going to feel appreciated and motivated to go to work every single day.
5) Personal is the new professional
Okay, hold on a second here. I don’t mean you should invite them to your sister’s baby shower right of the start, but really pay attention to their personality and how you feel around them.
Ask yourself is this someone I’d enjoy having a beer with? Or actually do have a beer with them! At the end of the day, since it’s a small team, you’re reeeally going to spend a lot of time in with this person. You better like their personality, right?
6) Do test their technical skills
Find the right balance. Until now all we have told you is to look beyond technical skills and more about soft skills and interpersonal relationships, but make no mistake, you’re not hiring your drinking buddies just because you love discussing about Sunday Night Football and Netflix’s newest series.
Test the candidate, and even though they might not get everything right, you’ll be able to spot the way they solve things they’re not comfortable with. It will also let you know how they cope with stress and what their problem solving skills are.
At the end of the day, hiring is one of the skills most founders struggle with. Not even founders, but big company CEO’s also find this activity to be quite hard, and more importantly, quite delicate. First hires could make or break your company. Better be prepared with these best practices!
We’re hiring, btw. Shoot me an email at email@example.com, if you think you’d be a good fit for content creation and/or graphic design!