March 4, 2021

Recruiting for a startup: 10 major roles and all you should know before starting

This article is for business owners, startup founders, and IT recruiters, who are just starting to work with startups. It tells the basics of how to start the search for hiring top employees for a startup. Let's start figuring out 10 must-have roles for every startup.

What people do you need to work in your startup

To build a viable startup you need awesome specialists who can make your company successful. To attract the needed specialists is a real problem for the founder. If he doesn’t have a wide network of appropriate people, his opportunities to recruit specialists are pretty limited. There is often a lack of well-motivated and qualified specialists, and competition is fierce when you need to bring them to your business.

Nevertheless, globalization and the remote-first approach eliminates the shortage of specialists - if you are open enough to embrace this trend. For startups, we always recommend working with Ukrainian Talent.

It’s not expensive there, and the experts’ level of work is quite the same as in domestic companies. If you start your business with the right initial investment, you will easily find all the needed specialists.

Here you can find more details about Ukrainian Talent: "Why is Ukraine the perfect location for software outsourcing"

Where to search employees for startups?

The most common resource is, of course, your own group of friends, colleagues, and acquaintances. Then attending job fairs and using their networking opportunities to meet people who are good candidates for high-potential startup employees. Then, of course via media and social media ads.

When you start looking for employees, first hire for top positions. They can immediately get down to business and also look for employees on their own. It's a good tactic.

10 must-have roles for startups

Let's talk about the main 10 roles that are needed in a startup. It is essential to identify them and understand what their role entails.

1. The founder of the startup

The founder is the main figure in the company. He or she is the one who:

  • Has the big idea and the one who wants to implement it.
  • Hires the first employees
  • Has the final word in the company.
  • Is responsible for the startup’s success.
  • Is going to be the face of the company.

2. The co-founder

The co-founder is the one who is going to work with the founder. He or she is the second in command in the company, like the right hand of the founder. But also he/she can have the equal rights with another co-founder.

3. Chief executive officer (CEO) + chief operations officer (COO)

They are top executives. You may disagree: the company is small, why does it need such positions? Well, because people will look up to outstanding leaders, and when they will know who exactly is at the helm, they won’t hesitate to join. You should know that this is not a position for the sake of a position. The CEO and COO must be true leaders and professionals.

4. Chief technology officer (CTO) or VP Engineering

The first role is the chief of all technical processes. He defines tech strategy, tools, processes, and the workflow for his teams. Also, he manages many aspects of hiring appropriate tech pros.

5. Product Manager and Project Manager

Most startups are about products. So you need someone smart who will be in charge of all product development and strategy. If you divide your workflow into processes and projects, you should hire the perfect Project Manager. He must be a pro in trended Agile Project Management.

6. Chief marketing officer (CMO)

No product or company can survive the 21st century without digital marketing. The marketer must draw up a suitable marketing strategy and be able to use his tools most effectively, to conduct effective advertising campaigns.

7. SMM, PR, Communication Manager

For startups PR is mostly external. So you definitely need the voice of the company who will represent your startup in Media, Social Media, will be in touch with influencers, and so on. Content marketing also works well in collaboration with your marketer.

8. Sales manager or Business development manager

You definitely need someone to sell your startup's product. He reaches out to potential clients with cold calls and emails, and processes leads generated as a result of your PR activity and marketer's work. Besides, he liaises closely with your available clients.

BizDev (Business Development Manager) performs almost the same but also looks for expanding the business connections, new fields, and areas.

9. Financial manager, or accountant, or general business administrator

You need to delegate the functions of paying taxes, salaries, dealing with clients to the right person. Especially the role of a financial manager or even a CFO, increases when a startup prepares to receive a round of funding from investors.

10. Client Support Manager

We do not know of a single product or service for which customers would not have questions, clarifications, requests. Every client's question must be answered. It's a matter of honor for any business, not just a startup.

Important note. When your startup grows, you need more employees. A corporate culture appears and evolves. So in future you will also need a Recruiter or HR manager. Or even Talent Acquisition Manager. But that is another story. At the beginning of your startup's journey, it is better to hire the first employees by yourself. The second powerful way is to outsource your recruiting to a professional agency.

How to implement Employer Branding for Startup?

The employer branding most commonly applies to businesses with numerous employees. It is a specific strategy implemented by organizations to increase their attractiveness as an employer. It often involves an external agency dedicated to building the employer brand.

But for startups employer branding is just as important as pitching their unique business idea to investors.

Creating a unique and consistent employer brand involves building meaningful relationships with customers and candidates. It should be reflected in your company’s values. It is composed of very clear and simple messages from your employment website, company presentations, job adverts, and social networks. A consistent employer brand builds a company’s reputation and identity; it depicts what makes it different from its competitors, including its employment philosophy. It's also extremely important to keep it working inside your office, because your little startup team is a powerful source of branding, just as the big company's staff.

Also, you should pay enough attention to the employee value proposition (EVP).

Remember, it's important to reflect EVP in your job description. We talked about this in detail in our article "How The Job Post Builder Can Help You Finally Be First To Top Talent". You can use our ready templates from Job Post Builder to translate your employee values to candidates.

Important note: Create the community. Then look at its most talented representatives. They may become your teammates.

How to create a Talent Pipeline for startup recruitment?

It is difficult for startups which often have limited budgets, time, and resources to approach top talent. For startups, identifying and attracting the right talent can be a massive challenge. This is where universities come in. We have been consistently told over the past couple of years by Startup Career Days that Universities are becoming a natural place where talented people come off their studies and get into making an impact upon society.

If you want to build the best product possible and attract the best talent possible then you need to get acquainted with top tech universities and the computer science departments within them. These programs are already highly selective and highly ranked, there is no reason you should not be fishing in the same pond. However, if you’re not connected or don’t have great relationships with these departments you will quickly find it very hard to get a slice of their graduates.

In addition, do not neglect IT and business events, job fairs, hackathons, especially since most of them are now taking place online.

4 basic things you should clarify before talking to candidates

  • Do you have a clear vision of what your company is all about? This will give you a crystal-clear vision of what kind of people you're looking for.
  • If you don't want to hire people who are overqualified for the job, then you need to define the job and the desirable skills really clearly.
  • You don't want to hire people who tend to look over the fence with respect to what other opportunities are available and feel as though they might be missing something.
  • Of course, a solid vision also gives an employee a sense of what you want them to achieve by working in your company. It is fundamental that employees really understand what is in store for them by working for your company.

To build a solid candidate pipeline you should know your markets well. It's crucial to know the rates, salaries, specializations. That's why you should read this Ukrainian IT Salaries 2020-2021 guide.

It's plenty of essentials to tell about startups. But let's continue it in other articles and guides.

Are you ready to conquer your business niche? Let us help you.

Originally posted in our blog on the Recruitment Blogs

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