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Hiring Tips for Cutting Edge Digital Startups

Hiring Tips for Cutting Edge Startups

452 unicorns with a $1.9 trillion valuation – it’s safe to say that the world of digital industry is white hot. Entrepreneurs and employees alike look to the digital startup as the modern California Gold Rush. If you’re looking for top talent here, you’ll need to brush up on your negotiating skills, reprogram some of your thinking about the hiring process, and yes, brush up your company resumé. 

So how do you make yourself known to the hungry, tech-savvy, accomplished prospects currently on the market? Let’s take a look at some best practices for hiring cutting edge employees for your cutting edge digital startup.

No Hierarchy

The world of digital startups is all about performance. Seniority plays a much less important role in the world of the “digital rockstar” than intellectual adaptability and bottom-line results. There’s a reason why executives put experience before education in CVs these days! That specific point may seem obvious, but you might be surprised at the companies that get blindsided by someone’s fancy degree only to find they should have hired for a targeted software skill set or management expertise. Don’t be one of them. Hold to your principles and hiring vision regardless of the credentials that show up on your doorstep – or at least don’t automatically prioritize those credentials over targeted experience.

Roles in startups are quite fluid. Different people may call shots depending on the expertise needed during a process. Google regularly shifts its tech leads based on performance, and every team member retains the autonomy to make unilateral decisions in his proven field of expertise. This is difficult to do under the traditional notion of a front-line-to-management-to-executive-to-C-suite hierarchy. Let the authority figure present himself based on who ends up solving the most problems at any given time!

Experience vs. Education

The entire notion of most startups is to break new ground. Although you’re looking for qualified experience, you can’t expect to find someone who’s already invented the product or process that you began your startup to invent! One of the most important characteristics in a new hire is the ability to learn on the fly. Innovation happens in real time, so industry research and updates to employee skill sets must happen in real time as well.

Let’s walk back the “experience over education” comments above slightly. Startups don’t have the time to on-board the generally educated in a specific software package or mode of thinking (e.g. agile development). At the same time, having the discipline to complete an educational program shows a certain proclivity towards self-startership. The trick is to find a continued dedication to education in your prospects after schooling has ended. The education that really concerns you is the real-time research and updates your employees make to their skill sets to stay abreast of (and ahead of) the industry. 

Intake Events

Take the time to introduce your company culture to the tech community. Position yourself correctly with hackathons, developer parties or the tech conference scene, and you’ll have top talent looking for you. Ideally, this is where you want to be.

Granted, this is a long-term strategy. If you need people short-term, going the more traditional route of sending out job descriptions and taking resumés is more effective. If you want real efficiency, you may want to outsource the details of the traditional process to expert consultation. You’ll be up against other companies in the most highly targeted space in business, and the devil is in the details of execution.

To be in the industry of cutting edge digital startups, your hiring process must be cutting edge as well. Once you’ve set your vision, look to the experts to translate the details into reality. Plugged-in third-party recruiting expertise on your side quantifies your hiring process, the first step to unicorn status in the growing and exciting world of digital startups.

Alan Cutter

Alan Cutter founded New York City's premier digital recruiting agency, AC Lion International, and continues to lead the growing company as their fearless CEO. For over 20 years, AC Lion has been the trusted provider of revenue generating talent in the digital and technology landscape. Our reach spans from innovative venture-backed startups to enterprise level organizations. AC Lion is a proud member of the Lionseye Group, a collective of brands furthering talent acquisition through Venture Capital, HR Technology and Thought Leadership.