What Startups Look for When They Hire

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Limited resources can make hiring a challenge for startups; however, the stress on resources also forces startup businesses to put a bigger emphasis on picking the right candidate.


“We hire hard to manage easy,” said Mandy Gray, President, Viirt.  “I think we purposefully make it difficult to find all of our hires; we have to. We value people as the largest capital in our company.”


Besides the magnitude of effort, how do startups differ from other businesses when it comes to the type of staff they hire? This week we sat down with Travefy, Viirt and the Straight Shot startup accelerator to ask them what makes an ideal employee for a startup business.

What is the first thing startup employers look for in a potential employee?

David Arnold, Managing Director, Straight Shot: What startups need first and foremost is an employee that has intrinsic motivation. As an employee of a startup, you have to juggle many roles and provide value without needing to be closely managed.

As startups grow, they can begin to hire specialists (developers, CFOs, etc.), but in the beginning it’s more about finding generalists who are a good cultural and personality fit with the company.


What specific characteristics do you look for in a potential employee?

Mandy Gray, President, Viirt: Grit and Vision are two of the eight defining themes we look for while hiring. At Viirt, we view Grit as the ability to dig in and keep going.

Gritty people are able to take a vision and break it down into executable milestones. They put time and energy into the right activities that make our business more effective and successful.

Individuals with a strong Vision are constantly thinking of new ideas with a high sense of purpose. They instinctively see efficiencies around them and bring these to life through ideas, people and processes.


Is there a quality that is hard to find among startup applicants?

Scott Rutz, Managing and Sales, Travefy: One of the hardest qualities to find in a potential employee is a true self-starter. In the first few years of a startup or high-growth company, they need to be able to hire employees that are like Navy Seals—you drop them in unknown territory, and they’re running full speed when they hit the ground and rapidly figure things out as they go.


Working for a startup requires a specific personality. You have to be many things at once including: intrinsically-motivated, flexible, organized, innovative and confident.


Have you ever thought about working for a startup? Read these tips from SiliconPrairieNews.com and find out how to get started.

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