HyperNoir – As of now, I am starting 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 to a friend of mine for hiring advice. He is Isai Suárez, the founder behind the successful Mexican jewelry company, Maison Mezcal.
“Look for diversity among team members, but aim for a shared cultural mindset inside the company.”
– Isai Suárez
The first thing he wanted me to understand before even starting the interview was that “there’s no way you’re going to do it perfectly the first time.” However, there are some ways in which first-time hiring can 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. 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 the 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 start. Sure, they might need constant coaching and supervision, 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
Isai mentioned how at the beginning it’s super important to focus on attitude and the willingness to work for the same vision as you, 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 people that set the tone for the company culture once it starts to grow. During a crisis, would you have any issues staying in a bunker with these 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 great pay isn’t going be the ace up your sleeve to get them to stay, you’ll have to provide something else.
Of course, there are some people who might ask for extra vacations or to be able to drink at work. But you’ll have to really improve your communication skills in order to enamor them with your mission, instead of just the basic benefits. Make them feel as if you guys are on a quest to changing your community, your industry, even the world.
Not only that, but make sure their contribution is actually helping or having direct impact on 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 off 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? 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 to focus more on soft skills and interpersonal relationships, but make no mistake, you’re not hiring your drinking buddies just because you love discussing Sunday Night Football and Netflix’s latest 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 CEOs also find this to be quite hard and, more importantly, quite delicate. First hires could make or break your company. Better keeps these best practices handy!
We’re hiring, btw… Shoot me an email at [email protected], if you think you’d be a good fit for content creation and/or graphic design!