Running a startup business is a lot like walking along a highwire a thousand feet in the air, only that the chance of survival for tightrope acrobats is considerably better. Most startups fail, due to their inability to secure adequate funding to sustain operations until they can begin generating significant revenues.
In this rough-and-tumble environment, there’s little room for error—that’s why startups must select their executives with enormous care. A bad CFO can harm an established company, but they can utterly ruin a startup. Recruitment disaster is far from inevitable, however.
Here we present a few executive recruiting tips that you could use to help your startup clients launch into the stratosphere.
Look for a Wide Range of Experience – It’s commonly said—although not everyone agrees with the idea—that the best predictor of future success is past experience. This is usually interpreted in a recruiting context to mean that the best candidates are those who have a track record of performing approximately the same duties as those required by the position you’re seeking to fill.
If you were to follow this advice to its logical conclusion, you would search for executives with past startup experience. It may be difficult to find quality candidates with that approach, though, and you would exclude from consideration a lot of talented individuals.
Here’s another tactic: Search for candidates who are adaptable. You want people who can adjust to whatever unpredictable challenges a new startup job might throw at them. How do you know if given candidates have this kind of quality? Their resumes may offer some clues. Candidates who have been with companies of widely varying sizes are likely to have a strong capacity to learn and adapt, even if they have little or no experience with startup culture.
Know What You Can Do Without – Everyone wants the ultimate executive, but startups typically have to aim their sights a little lower. If you’re making a list of qualities you’re searching for in a candidate, you need to be able to distinguish the essential from the merely desirable. Fortune 500 experience might seem ideal, but it may be better to select an executive with a relatively modest resume who demonstrates an intense interest in the startup’s goods and/or services.
Be Aware of the Client’s Weaknesses – Startups are often staffed by a small group of individuals who have fairly similar backgrounds. What this means is that there’s a strong possibility that the breadth of their collective talents may not cover everything a startup needs. Your recruiting efforts, therefore, should involve analyzing your client’s deficiencies and attempting to find executives who can address these shortcomings.
For example, if you have a tech startup founded by computer whizzes who have no experience with finance, you could try to find executives who are at ease in the world of investors and loan companies.
Don’t forget that Exelare’s ATS recruiting software is a terrific ally in your efforts to find the best candidate.