As a startup or small business owner, one of the most important aspects of growth is hiring new talent. Based on the stage of your company, and available funding, your unique business needs should guide hiring decisions.
Of course, skills pay the bills; yet it can be beneficial to hire seasoned talent along with new graduates. This mix of young and experienced new hires will give you the right platform to boost your business and benefit long term.
Before we delve into the subject of hiring employees, let’s get one thing straight – diversity covers a very broad range of matters, such as: race, gender and age to name a few. In this day and age, these are a given.
Hiring For Cultural Fit
The phrase ‘cultural fit’ is bandied around an awful lot these days, especially in the small business community of startups and young entrepreneurs. There is a common misconception regarding what company culture and cultural fit actually means.
In short, it is how a person fits within the core values of your company. In fact, applied psychology researchers Dianna Stone and Eugene Stone-Romero define this concept in their book, ‘The Influence of Culture on Human Resource Management Processes and Practices’ as, “the congruence between employees’ cultural values and specific characteristics of organizational reward systems” – they fit with the companies values, not the people doing the hiring.
However, recently it has become associated with a feeling as to whether a person is ‘cool’ enough for the company. While it is important that a prospective employee gets along well with others, it shouldn’t damage their chances of employment if they don’t share the same interests.
Interns, Mentorship and New Grads
As a startup, hiring seasoned talent with a few years of relevant experience can be advantageous, especially for roles where you need a candidate to hit the ground running.
These new hires will hopefully personify the traditional view of being a cultural fit – those who fit with the core values of your company, and the employer’s own personal ethos. This is your core team.
On that same note, hiring less skilled talent such as new graduates and interns can fill the gaps and prove to be a mutually beneficial experience.
You may be leery of hiring interns at the moment, many companies share your sentiment. According to a survey conducted by The Guardian, almost one in five British businesses admitted to using unpaid interns as cheap labor. Meanwhile, U.S. companies like Conde Nast and CBS have been hit with class action intern lawsuits. When hiring interns in the U.S, make sure to follow the Fair Standards Labor Act and structure intern work as an educational training program.
Also mentorship can go a long way. For example, a three month paid internship (in the form of a stipend based on minimum wage and hourly guidelines) can develop a fresh graduate who is a cultural fit, but has plenty to learn, into a mentee with a more experienced employee and mentor. This will create a valuable work opportunity for a college student or new graduate, in lieu of coffee runs or becoming the designated team minion.
While meeting the legal requirements for interns (and communicating that an intern is not entitled to a job) you can potentially integrate fully trained interns into your company down the road, should budgets permit.
You’ll benefit from the fact that you know their skill set firsthand and they will have had direct experience within the team.
Ultimately, when you strike the right balance between fresh talent and experienced professionals you will create a progressive company culture that is poised to meet the diverse needs of the market.
This article has been edited and condensed.
Jack Smithson is a Junior Content Editor for The Formations Company who have the vision of simplifying the startup experience, strip away any unnecessary extras, and give new business owners the right kind of support, especially during that first part of the startup journey. Connect with @theformationsco on Twitter.