For early-stage companies, the quality of hires is extremely critical. Once you have exhausted your own networks of the founding team to bring on early rounds of employees, it is crucial that you don’t sacrifice quality as you move into the next stage of hiring. Typically running lean at this stage, you need to count on your hires being the right ones. You most definitely can not do everything right away, so here are a few things to start with that are pretty painless.


Hiring Plan. Put together a hiring plan with a timeline. Although this will likely change, have a plan to work from. From there you can prioritize the roles you can actually onboard and support around the limitations you may have internally. For example, you really want to hire 20 people in 60 days but consider if you have the capacity to support all the interviewing required to get that accomplished.


Structure the right interview teams. All too often interview teams are built for convenience and with limited thought and planning. For example, if you have a hiring initiative focused on diversity, incorporate the appropriate team into the candidate experience. You will want candidates to get a true understanding and picture of the company culture and philosophy as well as the people.


Have an effective interview process. Determine and communicate the role of each person participating in the interview so there is no duplication. You want to be confident all vital areas with candidates are covered. Create a simple scorecard to track feedback so decisions can be made fairly and swiftly.

Document Processes. You might feel like you are making things up as you go along, but document what you are doing as you go through the process. There should be continual assessment and refinement but working towards systemization from the beginning is helpful. These will evolve over time as you grow.

Employee Referral Plan. Did you know that Employee referral programs decrease the time it takes to hire AND increases your employee retention rate? If you don’t have an employee referral plan, put one into place. 70% of organizations have programs with incentives ranging from $1000 to $5000. It can be simple, but don’t forget to communicate and promote it internally!


Candidate experience is vital. How you treat a person whether they get the job or not is meaningful. Word of mouth matters, especially if you are trying to build your employment brand. Take the time to communicate thoughtfully with candidates. This includes those you let out off the process. They know people too — maybe even your “perfect” candidate! When candidates were given anyinformation about next steps and were followed up with consistently by the recruiter, their willingness to refer others increased 68%.


Hiring can be overwhelming, especially when future success is at risk if you don’t bring in the right team. You can’t do everything at once, so don’t stress – each iteration is a move in the right direction.


Cheryl Barbato is President & Co-Founder of Talent Retriever.

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