5 Tips to Help You Hire for Your Startup

Hiring for your SaaS startup can be surprisingly tricky. How do you find someone who’s qualified, a good match for your company culture, and suited to the role, all while keeping diversity issues and the bottom line top of mind?

It’s a tall order, but with a little planning, you can certainly find your way to hiring just the person for the job.

It’ll help to follow these tips for hiring for your startup.

1. Use technology

First thing’s first—don’t try to manage this process by hand. Find an easy-to-use applicant tracking software (ATS) to keep all your candidates straight and guide you through the process of recruitment, interviews, negotiation, and onboarding. Such systems will even continue to work for you after hiring is complete, helping with tasks like time scheduling and payroll management. PC Magazine recommends BambooHR, Bullhorn Staffing and Recruiting, and SAP SuccessFactors.

2. Set culture fit guidelines

“The perfect hire is someone who is excited about your company’s goals, the kind of person that will go the extra mile when it’s required,” says Ben Slater, VP growth at Beamery. He recommends asking C-level leadership for a list of attributes a perfect employee for the company would likely possess. Next, compare this list with your actual employees and tweak to match the list with reality. Use this list to write up guidelines or a manifesto about what you’re looking for.

3. Prioritize qualifications

Culture can certainly be a key factor in your hiring, but don’t let it blind you to the serious need to prioritize qualifications and business acumen. Focusing too heavily on culture fit “highlights the very corporate immaturity that many startups are trying to grow out of by upgrading their management teams,” writes Kelly Kinnard, VP of talent at Battery Ventures. Among other things, a myopic focus on culture can result in hiring a whole team of people who are very similar—a notorious problem in the tech sector.

4. Look for key traits

You want your candidate to fit the role, not only in qualifications but also in personality and approach. Do you need a scrappy problem-solver, an agile team-player, or a deadline-driven technician? Think about how “knows how to ask for help” may be more of a draw for the role in your organization than “is the best coder the world has ever seen.” Ask questions in the interview process that gets candidates to reflect on the quality of their character as opposed to their technical skills.

5. Beware the “superhero hunt”

The guidelines you create have the danger of being pie-in-the-sky—your C-suite inhabitants, after all, will be picturing the ideal employee: someone insanely talented and creative and as enthusiastic about the business as the CEO. You’ll be tempted to ask for burning passion, phenomenal creativity, and mind-blowing technical skills. Words like “rockstar,” “ninja,” or “guru” may float into your list. But you’ll set yourself up to fail if you’re not realistic and targeted in exactly what you need from an employee and the likelihood that a single person will be able to satisfy your entire wishlist.

If you’re just starting on the long journey of hiring for your rapidly growing startup, you’ll need a lot of advice from here on out. If you’re a high-growth company, you’ll probably be hiring more people at a faster clip than you ever expected. Start with this write-up from SaaStr about what your first 100 hires will probably look like.

And then, as you move through the process, take advice like the tips above seriously if you want to end up with the team that will be the best match for your company’s needs.

Katherine Gustafson is a full-time freelance writer specializing in content for mission-driven changemakers such as tech disruptors in fintech, healthcare IT, and B2B SaaS. She also does corporate work on business topics including accounting, management, and innovation for companies such as KPMG, TD Bank, Workday, Avalara, and Adobe. She is the author of a book about innovation in sustainable food, and her writing has appeared in a wide variety of sites and publications including QuickBooks Resource Center, Business Insider, and Forbes. Follower her on Twitter @k_m_g.