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Don't wing hiring

For early-stage tech startups, the hiring process can be extraordinarily difficult.

Early team members need to be ambitious, skilled, energetic and be able to both contribute and lead.

With these challenges, there’s a few patterns that emerge. Founders may hire seasoned leaders, or they may wind up with a young, ambitious go-getters looking to make their mark. There may even be cases where a full time leader can’t be retained, and a founder looks to agencies.

The last scenario happens a lot when hiring in areas a founder doesn’t have experience in. Someone with a business background may not understand what they need from a good senior engineer. A technical founder may not know how to assess a marketer. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with choice, especially when the wrong choice can be expensive. It makes using staff augmentation service or an agency look attractive.

For an early-stage startup, I think that’s a risky scenario.

Why? Because it’s easy for an agency or dev shop to represent their team as very senior through vanity metrics and acronym matching.

Could an agency with excellent qualifications still be a good hire? Certainly. But their experience shouldn’t be the only factor. Is the work they produce worth the price? Does their advice seem like it’s future proofed? Do they continually tell you things you need to get done are out of the budget?

As an fractional CTO, this is one area where I have the most fun helping because I’ve been burned a few times by making bad staffing decisions. By helping these companies clarify what they’re looking for and finding good hiring pools, I’m able to set these startups up with a solid foundation for growth.

Published Mar 21, 2024

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