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How to search for staff
Reading time: 10 minutes
Updated 29 January 2024

How to search for staff: how to select the best candidates

Having a work team composed of talented and competent people is one of the main indicators of success for any company. Steve Jobs, after all, teaches:

“Great things in business are never accomplished by one person. They are accomplished by a team of people.”

Hiring top talent is itself very difficult for companies in general; it’s only fair that you should know, however, that recruitment is even more complicated for startups.

There are many reasons for this: first of all, the stakes are much higher in the case of a startup, for which the choice of the wrong candidate can have very serious repercussions on the development of the project and its very future (there is, of course, also the reverse side of the coin: a particularly good choice can catapult you to the top in a short time). Those who run this type of business also often lack (at least in the beginning) the funds necessary to offer competitive salaries. Large companies, in addition to having more resources, also have established values and goals that can more easily attract top talent.

In light of what has just been said, you will well understand that knowing how to find qualified staff and how to manage the various resources available to the startup really does make the difference between failure and success.

 

Identify the needs of the business

What is the first step in looking for staff to hire? The answer to this seemingly trivial question may surprise you: no, it is not the posting of the ad. First, in fact, you need to identify the specific needs of the company. This particular step allows you to be clearer about the criteria to follow in your search for staff and the requirements on which to focus but, in some cases, it may also convince you that, in fact, you don’t really need to hire new resources.

In fact, finding new staff means investing time and money in research, selection, training and onboarding. Evaluate, therefore, whether you can outsource certain tasks by contracting them out. Determine, too, whether the tasks to be filled are short-term or require longer time frames: in the first case, you could propose fixed-term forms of contract, which do not commit you to long-term (including financially).

 

Define the profile of the ideal candidate

For a recruitment search to be fruitful, it cannot but start with defining the ideal candidate. In fact, only by having the profile of the person you are looking for clearly in mind can you then succeed in finding him or her.

Even before skills and previous experience in his or her field of expertise, your attention must turn to other aspects in the recruitment phase: in fact, in order to define the profile of the ideal candidate, you must also (and, in many cases, especially) consider that the person you choose will have to work with the other employees you already have on your team.

This means that the candidate should have a particular type of character, a well-defined mindset, and a precise work attitude. Not only that: the ideal candidate is also self-motivated, curious about work and in line with the vision, mission and values of the company. Remember: regarding some roles and in different situations, motivation may trump ability. Don’t forget that more motivated employees produce greater benefits.

 

Establish the skills required

It’s time, now, to talk about skills: to determine the knowledge and qualities to look for in the recruitment phase, you need to start with what your startup lacks. Put down on paper the must-have and “desirable” requirements and evaluate, on a case-by-case basis, who best aligns with your needs.

Candidate CVs can give you a rough idea of what they can offer, but remember that a piece of paper can never effectively summarize who a person is and what they can do. Critically analyze each CV and delve into the aspects that don’t resonate with you at the interview stage with specific questions. A useful expedient for assessing whether or not a candidate possesses the required skills is to test him or her in his or her field with a practice test.

 

Where and how to look for staff to hire

Once you have established the skills you need and outlined the profile of the ideal candidate, your staffing search needs to get into gear: do you know where and how to look for your future employees?

You have to remember, first of all, that regardless of the platform you choose to select people to hire, the search for candidates must start with the correct drafting of the Job Description: many entrepreneurs tend to underestimate the moment of creating the ad to select staff but, often, paying special attention to this aspect is of great help because it allows you to make a first skim of candidates.

The job ad must include within it a clear, complete and comprehensive description of the role to be filled by the chosen candidate, mandatory or “welcome” degrees and prior experience, the skills needed to do the job (both hard skills and soft skills) but also information such as compensation, benefits, perks and opportunities. Be careful: the ad should not translate into a mere list of what has just been mentioned, but should be engaging and inspiring to those who read it. Don’t forget to also include a mention of your startup’s history, mission and values.

Now that you know how to write a great Job Description, you need to know where to post it. The options available to you are many: the Internet has revolutionized the process of candidate selection, offering companies many new spaces where they can place their ads, either for free or for a fee (the dual purpose, in this case, is to gain more visibility and conduct a more precise search).

 

The best recruitment websites

Among the best sites for finding personnel, it is impossible not to mention LinkedIn. For the moment, however, it is more useful to set aside this social network (to which a specific section is devoted) for the moment to learn about other sites where you can find staff to hire.

A distinction should be made between sites specifically dedicated to the search for qualified personnel and generalist platforms that, within them, include a space reserved for job openings.

Within the first category, in addition to the aforementioned LinkedIn, the following sites stand out:

  • Indeed is a job-finding search engine with more than 300 million unique visitors per month (internal data for April-September 2022), more than 245 million CVs uploaded, and more than 850 million ratings and reviews. Within Indeed there is also a section where companies, after registering an account, can post their job ads (including sponsors).
  • Monster, which has 25 years of experience in the world of online recruiting, is another well-known job search engine in Italy and abroad. It offers companies 360-degree recruitment solutions, from candidate attraction to candidate placement, with different options designed for specific segments.
  • InfoJobs, too, has been in the business of connecting companies on the hunt for talent and candidates looking for new professional opportunities since 2004. Companies, in particular, are given a specific section and two options for finding the ideal candidate: search through the CVs uploaded to the site’s database or post a job offer.
  • Jooble includes over 150 thousand job listings from more than 2700 different sites. There are two solutions for employers, one free and one “Premium,” with which, in exchange for increased visibility and other beneficial options, you pay only for targeted views. There are, in addition, two packages reserved for companies: “Premium Basic” and “Premium Advanced.”

Generalist platforms with a section devoted to job openings, on the other hand, include:

  • Subito.it is a popular classifieds site for buying and selling used items, but at its core it also includes a section dedicated to job vacancies and inquiries from those seeking employment. This platform allows job ads to be posted for free.
  • Bakeca.it is a classifieds site where you can also post jobs by selecting the category of the same name. The posting process is free, fast and user-friendly.
  • Facebook is known primarily as a social network but it is also a platform where you can place job ads. You can do this in two ways: either, through your business page, taking advantage of the appropriate function (you can also decide to sponsor the ad to ensure greater visibility) or through Facebook Marketplace, Meta’s platform dedicated to buying and selling used items but with a section also reserved for job postings.

Finally, Hiring deserves a separate mention. If you have never heard of this site, it is only because it is the new feature (still) being tested by Twitter dedicated to job offers and designed to compete with LinkedIn. The first hints about this new reality were launched by Elon Musk on Twitter itself in May 2023. Two months later, the first images of Hiring started popping up.

 

LinkedIn: the best social network for recruitment

As promised, LinkedIn deserves a separate discussion. Indeed, this social network connects professionals around the world and boasts the largest professional network on the Internet globally.

To post job ads on LinkedIn, you must first create a company page. LinkedIn offers the possibility of posting ads for free or creating sponsored ads. Not only that, the platform also offers companies several other services, such as LinkedIn Recruiter, which helps find, contact and manage the right candidates to create winning teams.

 

University databases

The search for personnel does not necessarily have to go through websites dedicated to job vacancies: another useful expedient in this regard is to turn to university databases. Universities generally provide specific programs to help their students and recent graduates gain work experience, including internships or apprenticeships.

Keep in mind that for less professional experience, students and recent graduates have lower costs and a lot of enthusiasm and eagerness to learn.

If you think this option might be right for you, you could take part in recruiting events organized by universities and/or offer yourself as a speaker to talk about your startup at seminars and conferences.

 

Selection and interviews

In the preceding lines we have already emphasized several times that the first fundamental step in fruitful candidate selection is the drafting of the Job Description, which must follow certain rules. We will not repeat them or dwell particularly on the other aspects of the recruitment process because we will return to it shortly with an in-depth study devoted to it more specifically and in depth.

For the time being, suffice it to know that interviews, or selection interviews as they may be called, serve not only to delve into aspects of the CV that don’t add up for you, but also to bring out the candidates’ real skills and personality traits. Putting the interviewer at ease is crucial and, for this reason, you should avoid those puzzle problems so beloved by those who want, through them, to assess readiness of reasoning and response. Instead, the tests should be aimed at testing skills in their relevant area.

If you have doubts after the first interview, you could suggest a second interview in which you would be accompanied by a figure from within the company, perhaps with a responsible role in the department the candidate is expected to join. Even a company tour with the candidate might reveal aspects of his or her character that did not come up during the interview and can help you make your choice.

 

Human resource management

To be said to be truly accurate, a consideration of personnel recruitment cannot neglect another aspect as well: that, that is, related to human resource management.

Have you ever heard of onboarding? This word refers to the process of integrating a new employee into the company that hired him or her. It is a very delicate process that can take days, weeks or even months. If carried out properly, onboarding allows the new employee to feel welcome within the organization and makes him or her more enthusiastic and motivated. If done poorly, however, onboarding can undermine all the efforts made in the selection process.

 

Training and staff development

Training, i.e., that activity through which the new employee is taught the skills necessary to properly perform the job for which he or she has been hired, is one of the key moments in the onboarding process but is not to be understood as a one-time event but rather as an ongoing process aimed at making the workforce more productive.

In this regard, it is worth clarifying the distinction between training and staff development: while the former focuses on the current situation and aims to address the shortcomings of the moment through precise corrective strategies, the latter has a longer-term perspective and assumes the creation of opportunities for employees to grow in relation to the future tasks and responsibilities they may face.

 

Employee retention: what it is and why it is critical

For a company, and particularly a startup, reducing employee turnover is critical. The concept of Employee Retention refers precisely to the goal of keeping talented and productive workers within the company. This goal can be achieved, for example, by fostering a positive work atmosphere within the company, offering competitive pay and benefits, and providing rewards for goals achieved.

All this, on the employee side, translates into more enthusiasm in doing the work within the company and higher productivity. Don’t underestimate this aspect: disgruntled employees tend to say goodbye to the company at the first useful opportunity, and excessive turnover means problems in the day-to-day running of the business and high costs for replacing workers and training new employees, but it also has a negative impact on other workers and customers, who will find themselves dealing with different people all the time.

 

Conclusion

Knowing how to find new staff is important, and you now have all the information you need to make sure you don’t get it wrong. Before we say goodbye, however, you also need to be clear about when you need to start looking for staff. On this particular aspect we have one piece of advice: let your startup’s business plan guide you. It will be the roadmap it defines that will tell you when to break the buck and set out to look for new employees.

Nicola Zanetti

Founder B-PlanNow® | Startup mentor | Startup consulting & marketing strategist | Leading startup to scaleup | Private angel investor | Ecommerce Manager | Professional trainer | Book writer

info@b-plannow.com

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