matt dodgson hiring video image
Jul 26, 2019

Recruitment for Tech Startups: 4 Questions to Ask Before Beginning the Hiring Process

By Matt Dodgson

Co-Founder - Recruiter & Marketer

What are the advantages of hiring a tech marketer for a startup?

Well, as a startup, it depends on what stage of growth your business is at.

Are you struggling to get product-market fit?

Are you struggling to acquire more customers and also retain them?

Are you struggling to grow after receiving some funding?

Or are you struggling to hire top quality talent to grow your business?

So it really depends on what your startup needs in the first place.

The good thing, is that Marketers these days cover so many different areas and can solve so many different problems.

So if you have any of those issues holding your Startup back, then there will be a marketer out there to help you and your business overcome them.

On top of that, most good marketers in the B2B Startup space, are also familiar with growth marketing.

And these marketers use agile sprints – so testing things like web copy, landing page conversions, PPC advertising, account based marketing, user experience.

So you can use these small little sprints to test things without investing much.

The advantage being, is that over time you can build up a program that includes all the different elements that are going to work together to help your business grow.

But in a way that doesn’t sap your marketing budget in one swoop.

How to Hire Your First Marketer: A Guide for B2B Tech Startups

What factors do I need to consider when hiring a tech marketer?

Well, the biggest factor is, are you going to run the recruitment process yourself?

Now, I appreciate that using a recruitment company can be perceived as costly, so some startups today use their own methods to hire people.

Because if you are going to run that process yourself, you’re going to have to make recruitment an absolute priority.

And the reason I say that is because today in London, right now, there are so many marketing jobs with B2B Startups.

It’s crazy.

And not only that, as a startup, you’re going to be regarded as a more risky option.

So not only are you fighting against the fact that tech marketers are hard to find in the first place, you’re also fighting against the fact that it’s going to be hard for your startup to attract the very best people because of the fact there are so many other jobs out there.

So, when you think about running the process yourself, you need to then think along the lines of recruitment is going to be my number one focus.

Put to one side the product.

Put to one side raising money.

Put to one side managing the existing team. All those things you can still do. But recruitment has to be your number one priority.

What are tech marketers looking for in their role?

Well, in our latest salary survey, we asked marketers what’s most important to them.

And actually things like flexibility was quite important.

So that’s definitely something, and especially if you’re hiring somebody, say at marketing manager, marketing director, CMO, that sort of level upwards, then invariably those candidates are going to come with families and stuff like that.

So they’re going to have extra pressures outside of work.

So, if you’re able to, as a startup, if you’re able to offer those marketers the ability to work from home or slightly more flexible hours, then you will definitely attract more people.

The second thing that really interested marketers in our salary survey was the content of work.

Most marketers want to learn, they want to become better, they want to improve themselves, they want to develop their skills.

They don’t want to just come in and do the same job, but for somebody else.

And this is where there can be sometimes a bit of a mismatch between what a startup wants and what a startup can get.

Because if you think about it, in your job, if you were then headhunted to go and do exactly the same job for just another similar business, then what’s in it for you? Why are you going to do that?

So the content of the work is really important to marketers.

And what they want is they want to still get involved in some of the stuff they’re good at because they enjoy it.

They’ve become better at it over the years, they’ve refined it, they’ve developed it, they would class themselves as experts.

But, they also then want to stretch themselves.

They want to try new techniques, they want to try the latest tools. They want to try new programs.

They want to be able to be in an environment where they can express themselves, be creative, test and learn stuff so they can then develop their skills further.

So there’s a balance of a couple of things. They want to, yes, have that flexibility, but also the content of the work is actually really, really important to them too.

They want to feel like they are progressing in their careers. They want to feel like they are developing themselves.

And if you can offer that, then you’re onto a winner.

Are there any mistakes I need to avoid?

The big mistake that a lot of startups make is hiring the wrong marketer in the first place.

Typically within a startup, the founder, the CEO, the MD, or even the sales director, they’ll be involved in hiring a marketer.

When often, they’re not really from a marketing background themselves.

They don’t know the ins and the outs. They don’t know the technical stuff. They don’t always know the right questions to ask.

Now don’t get me wrong, some founders of Startups really get marketing and it’s their thing.

But a lot of startups focus too much on cultural fit and less on skills.

Are the questions that ask going to pick up the nuances between the marketeer that’s going to help you when you’re in startup mode, and the marketer that’s going to help you get from $2 million to 50 million.

So that’s the first mistake.

The second mistake is that some Startups don’t sell the opportunity.

Because Startups are risky to a lot of people.

Your business may do amazingly well, and you might be the next Slack, but chances are you won’t be.

So think about an interview as a two way process.

Not only are you assessing to see whether or not the marketer has the right skills and the right cultural fit to make a success of it.

But it also has to be the reverse.

Why is that candidate going to want to come work for you and your business?

And how the best interviewers and the best companies do it, is to split the interview in half.

Half of it is me finding out a little bit more about the candidate, and half of it is the candidate finding out more about you.

And if you run it like that and you open up the floor to the candidate and you say,

“Look, okay, well over to you. I appreciate that joining a company has its risks.

I understand that you want to understand whether or not you want to work for us as a company.

So how about for the next half an hour, or 45 minutes, you pepper me with some questions so that you can find out everything that you want to know that’s important to you when you want to choose your next job?

Literally nothing is off the table. So just ask as many questions as you can.”

Now, even by saying that, you’re setting yourself apart from the majority of hiring managers out there.

The majority of hiring managers focus on what they want, not what the candidate wants.

And that’s where your advantage can lie.