Right now, above all else, candidates are craving job security. The job market is currently inundated with candidates who have been made redundant, and don’t want to be burned again while the future of many businesses is being brought into question. Job security is typically defined as assurance that you will be able to work in your job long-term.
You don’t need us to tell you that startup businesses are not traditionally seen as a safe career option. After all, the very nature of a startup means it comes with uncertainty and risk. Candidates in the past have worried that startups could be here today and gone tomorrow which does not align with the term “job security”.
However, as a startup business owner, you know that this is not always the case, and in the last 12 months, it has been startup businesses that have been able to thrive. Of course, the beginnings of any business are rocky and uncertain. However, when a startup business is ready to scale and hire new team members, there needs to be a level of confidence that you can take care of these people. You’ve put in the hard graft and long hours yourself to get your business to this position; now you just need the talented people to help you to take your company to the next level.
Luckily times are changing, workers across the globe have had a taste for flexible working, and many employers have shown their true colours, losing employee confidence. Recent months have made a case for working at startup businesses like never before; their flexibility, company culture and the chance to make an impact. However, there is one barrier that startups need to overcome to appeal to top talent, and that is proving themselves to be a stable career option.
It’s still a risk to join a startup though, particularly in the current financial climate. Even if your startup is doing well on the back of COVID-19, some particular ideas and associations follow new businesses around.
So, how can you position your startup as a stable career option to top candidates?
Be honest about your growth prospects
A startup business must promote a company culture of transparency. In startups, it’s likely that the full team will be involved in decisions and will have an input; provided leadership are honest with the whole team. You must be prepared to discuss the financial situation and growth prospects with candidates. When it comes to working at a startup, educated candidates will have done their research about various sources and stages of funding. They’ll understand that the risk to job security at a startup is lower as they begin to scale and become more financially stable. As the founder of a startup, you must be prepared to answer any questions about this topic. However, you must be truthful. Be ready to admit to oversights or mistakes, although you may not need to go into specifics about who has invested and how much they’ve invested. Remember, by avoiding the truth you will be caught out eventually and this will lead to higher recruitment costs later down the line.
Have a product or service they can believe in
For your startup to be in a strong position where you feel ready to hire, you must have a product or service that people believe in. However, it would help if you put as much effort into ensuring candidates know how great this offering is as much as you would investors or customers. If a candidate is going to see you as a stable long-term career option, they must believe in what you’re doing. Therefore, your company mission and values are more vital than ever. You should make sure that your mission statement is clear, unique and stands out but also that it is ingrained into every aspect of your business from the get-go. Having a more comprehensive understanding of what makes your business unique, what you’re trying to achieve and your overall goals will create a more united company culture which will translate through your EVP and employer brand to potential candidates.
Promote your company culture
One huge advantage that startups have over large corporations is their company culture. Startup businesses are seen as more fun, lenient and simply less corporate than their established counterparts, and this is something to be proud of. The COVID-19 crisis has made workers assess what’s important to them and for many it’s more important to enjoy what you do, be content and be able to spend time with loved ones. Therefore, having a relaxed, supportive and fun company culture will make you a much more enticing prospect to candidates. Many workers have become used to remote working and working from home and if this is something your startup can offer it may work in your favour as large corporations return to the office environment. Social media is your best friend when it comes to promoting your company culture and enhancing your employer brand. Use the various platforms to create an authentic and genuine picture of what it’s like to work for you. But focus more on the people that make your business than the fact you have a pool table or slide in the office as otherwise no one will take you seriously as a long-term career prospect.
Stay away from gimmicks
Leading on from our last point, startups in the past have become renowned for their quirky office spaces and unique benefits. Did someone say unlimited holidays? Right now, we’re facing the highest unemployment rates in decades, and so it’s pretty safe to assume that candidates couldn’t care less if you can offer them a weekly massage or a beer on a Friday. Instead, they want a job that can provide security, especially after many are likely to have been let go from jobs they loved. If you want your company to be seen as a stable career option, focus on benefits that genuinely help your employees. Gimmicks are great at getting people to pay attention, but only time will tell if they’ll help position you as a reliable employer in the new normal.
Focus on wellbeing
One of the biggest concerns about working at a startup is the lack of work-life balance. It’s a widespread belief that working at a startup means long hours and not being able to stick to a 9-5 schedule due to work demands. Of course, if you have a small team, you may need them to work overtime occasionally, but you need to make it clear to candidates that you care for their wellbeing. Offer some benefits or wellness sessions that can help promote a healthy work-life balance. You must include wellbeing as a core value of your EVP to show employees and candidates that your people and their welfare is your priority. As a startup prepares to scale, wellbeing should be on the top of the list to prove you can not only compete with big industry players but also set you apart from many of them.
Shout about opportunities for growth and learning
In a startup, there are not only more opportunities for learning and development; there’s the chance to learn on the job. Startups, traditionally, have fewer defined job-roles and individuals that find themselves paving careers in new organisations have seen themselves wearing many hats. Make it an explicit part of your EVP and communication process that the possibilities are endless. People that work with you can push their careers to the next level, gaining experience in different areas and initiate super-fast growth. While this might not be an ideal working situation for some candidates, the candidates that will help a startup succeed are adaptable, hardworking and eager to learn. While you may not be able to promise that your company will reach the heights of tech giants like Apple or Google, you can promise career stability through training, learning and experience. This means that even if your startup doesn’t succeed, they’ll have skills and expertise to take them to the next level of their career elsewhere.
Humanise your business
The heart of any business is its people, but when it comes to a startup, it’s even more vital that candidates can learn about the individuals that work there. Even when scaling, startups consist of close-knit teams, with a small number of people; therefore, it’s vital to put faces to your business. Include your people in your content marketing strategy, and you’ll simultaneously give an idea of what your company is like to work for. Share success stories of people within your business, run Q&A sessions with them or even feature videos with them on social media.
Leaders of startups should also be very vocal and present on social media. This helps people to learn about your organisation, your values and what you stand for. A CEO adopting an honest and human approach to social media paints a picture of the company and what they’re like as an employer. Admit to mistakes, ask questions and shout about what your business has done well so candidates can form a relationship with your business. Knowing and trusting the leadership team is a great way to showcase yourself as a viable career choice.
Consider red flags for candidates and address them
One of the best ways to position yourself as a healthy career choice for the candidates currently on the market is to look at your business through their eyes. With any business, there are bound to be red flags that stick out for candidates, primarily emerging from a pandemic when we’re all a little less trusting and a little more on edge. You must be prepared to have honest conversations that will address concerns, for example, if you have a high employee turnover or if your business hasn’t hit growth targets, explain why. As we keep saying, honesty will get you everywhere, and this is where the flexibility and less-corporate nature of startups comes in handy. By addressing issues early in the recruitment process, you will iron out any creases and ensure concerns are dealt with.
Talent Works International are committed to helping startups to scale and reach their true potential. To stay up to date with our startup content series, The Startup Lowdown, and receive guides and information curated by our experts, sign up to our mailing list via the form on this page.