🐥 How to Hire Employees for an Early-Stage Startup

NEWHR Recruiting
3 min readJun 4, 2024


Let’s imagine that the founders have assembled a core team of 5–7 people. These may be top managers of the nascent business (CPO, CMO, and others), or the first employees (developers, marketers, etc.) who directly create the product.

NEWHR Recruiting’s clients often hire a CTO or CMO later than developers or marketers. Or — they wait until specialists grow to C-level along with the business.

Who hires?

At an early stage, you can entrust the hiring of teams to top managers (if any): let the CTO hire developers, the CPO — product managers, and so on. This way leaders will learn to “sell” the vacancy and the company’s product to candidates.

It is important to start building unified hiring standards across the company and not let the process run its course.

⚠️ When processes are not in place, it is unclear how to evaluate people by hard skills and value to the business. Without processes, there is a higher risk of hiring the wrong people. For example, employees may bring their friends.

Where to look for people?

In NEWHR Recruiting’s experience, it is easier and cheaper to start with founders’ and top managers’ networks. Usually, about 30% of vacancies never appear on job boards.

When network resources are exhausted, you can go three ways.

Option 1. Go to a cold audience in public

That is, post a vacancy on LinkedIn, job boards, and so on.

What is important:

◆ You will have to sift through a large stream of irrelevant candidates. This requires time and effort from the team.

◆ Chaotic hiring processes will harm the startup’s reputation among candidates. This is especially true in narrow markets where everyone knows everyone (for example, in gamedev).

Here’s what usually annoys job seekers: “a huge test task,” “a strange interview without feedback,” “they didn’t read my CV,” “they made a job offer and disappeared,” etc.

◆ You need to create the candidate evaluation process and appoint an owner of its implementation (more on this below).

Option 2. Hire a full-time recruiter — a person who will only hire.

The recruiter will need access to professional tools (job boards, LinkedIn, etc.) and automation. This will cost money.

Usually, an early-stage startup does not yet require large-scale hiring. So, it is too early to hire a full-time recruiter.

Option 3. Involve a part-time agency/recruiter

They can be connected to any hiring in the company. The agency will be useful as an expert on specific issues and vacancies.

How do you build hiring processes?

1️⃣ Founders and top managers should consult with an agency/strong recruiting leader from another company.

2️⃣ Appoint an owner responsible for the process within the company. This could be the CTO, CPO, operations manager, CFO, or someone else. It is still too early to hire an HR director at this stage.

3️⃣ Give the owner the authority and ability to implement a unified hiring process throughout the company.

4️⃣ Fill the process with tools and stages. Try to answer the questions:

— What do we do when a vacancy opens up?

— How do we describe the profile of a person?

— How do we evaluate candidates?

— How many stages are there to this evaluation?

— Who evaluates? Why them?

— How do we prepare employees for interviews?

— How do we make a job offer? How do we refuse?

— What do we do if the candidate declines the offer?

— How do we maintain a candidate database to avoid losing them?

And so on.

5️⃣ Founders need to be aware of the hiring and evaluation process. Why?

On the one hand, delegating hiring to the process owner and top managers is important. On the other hand, if you (the founder) completely withdraw from the process early, top managers may hire people who don’t match the company culture and values.

“Some founders delegate everything and then criticise the top managers: “Who did you hire? What have you done?”, says Kira Kuzmenko, founder of NEWHR recruiting agency.

When the processes are worked out and everyone is satisfied, you can move on.

💙 For team and leadership hiring, come to us at NEWHR Recruiting. Submit your request on our website or email us at contact@new.hr



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