Help! HR and recruiting for startup companies [Expert Insights]
Lindsay Purchase interviewed Rebecca Graham.
Rebecca Graham is full of great HR and recruiting advice for startups. She was at the Startup HR 101 Workshop, in Kitchener Ontario.
As with all great ideas, a new business venture is bound to experience the challenges of growing pains and overcoming early struggles.
Canadian tech company Enflick, Inc. has achieved a great deal of success since it began in 2009, but has certainly not been immune to the difficulties faced by most startup businesses.
Enflick is the creator of two applications: PingChat! andTextNow. The former is a multi-media messenger app that operates in a similar way to the Blackberry Messenger, but with additional features, including the ability to work on multiple smartphone platforms. The latter is a free app that offers American users unlimited free texting and picture messaging.
One of the challenges Enflick has faced as a tech startup is “getting the word out about who you are and what products you make,” according to Rebecca Graham, the Human Resources Manager at Enflick. Although they have been highly successful, with over 16 million users, making the connection from the product to the business is an area still needs improvement.
“There’s a lot of people who have heard of PingChat! but there’s not a lot of people who’ve made the connection to Enflick,” Graham elaborated.
A resource which Enflick has found especially valuable as a tech startup is the availability of local co-op students. According to Graham, students make up almost one third of the total staff, a ratio which is not uncommon among startup companies.
“Often times, bringing in a co-op student is a great way to sort of try it before you buy it, if you will,” said Graham. Both the student and the business are able to get a sense of whether the relationship is a good fit, and the student is able to have a more powerful impact due to the small size of startup companies.
When bringing in student employees, Graham said, “The main goal would be to bring on people who have fresh ideas, who again are just wanting to soak up as much experience as possible.” She added, “They just want to make an impact.”
However, she acknowledged, it does take a certain mindset to be able to work in a startup environment. Graham noted, “I think people who function really well in a startup are people who don’t necessarily like being in a box.” Skills such as flexibility and eagerness to learn are particularly important, along with a desire to consistently put the needs of the company first.
“Sometimes, people who come from larger companies have a tendency to overcomplicate processes and decisions when we really just need to simplify them,” she explained. “It’s not always easy to apply big company methodologies to small companies.”
In small businesses, staff are limited and hiring choices are crucial. Finding the right people establishes an enjoyable work atmosphere, and may tip the scales favourably toward success.
“The biggest thing is always remembering to hire the best of the best,” said Graham, which she acknowledged may mean hiring people with skills more developed than your own. “At the end of the day, it’s about building the strongest team.”