Qualities start-ups look for in new employees

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Employees are the most important part of any company’s success. With start-ups in particular, hiring the right people can make or break a business. The core team that propels a start-up forward must be ripe with ideas, talent and skills.

But just being a gifted specialist in one’s field isn’t always enough to make you a start-up’s dream employee. Here are some other attributes that many start-ups value:


A team player

The ability and enthusiasm of each individual to co-create by sharing dynamic ideas and sharing credit makes a start-up more prolific as a whole.

"More than in any other professional environment, collaboration is crucial in a start-up, where major decisions are being made every day." - Simon Bromwell, Managing Director. 

A 'go with the flow' attitude

At start-ups, roles aren’t always set in stone and processes haven’t been firmly established. A willingness to make mistakes and take risks is crucial, as is the humility to admit when something isn’t working. If following well-established rules and sticking to procedures is your modus operandi, you might want to reconsider whether working for a start-up is for you.

An ability to problem-solve

No one at a start-up wants to hear about a problem unless it comes hand-in-hand with a solution. An employee who takes the initiative to problem-solve and make proactive decisions can save company leadership a lot of headaches.

Simon Bromwell continues, "Find a bug in an app? Great, but more importantly, how can you solve it?"

A willingness to learn

Start-ups are great environments to learn new skills and techniques. But for that learning experience to pay off, an employee needs to be open to learning, changing and adopting new mindsets. A humble attitude toward trying new things and always learning is the hallmark of a start-up employee poised for big things.

An entrepreneurial spirit

A renegade, entrepreneurial spirit works well in a start-up, but ironically, many employees with these traits are themselves aspiring start-up founders. Many start-ups hire would-be entrepreneurs for the very reason that they’re ambitious go-getters with vision and the chops to build things from scratch.

While this means that employees might not stick around forever, the trade-off is that a company can capitalize on these valuable traits for a crucial period of time, and simultaneously give the employees the experience they need to eventually establish their own businesses.

Social savvy

Start-ups rely on employees to help spread the word about their products and services, so hiring employees who are active on social media makes sense. An enthusiastic tweeter is a great marketing boost to a company hoping to get the word out on a grassroots level.

Here’s one thing that many start-ups are starting to agree is not so important in hiring: a college degree. While it’s certainly a nice-to-have, it’s not necessarily a have-to-have these days. Small business online community Manta recently conducted a survey and concluded that of the nearly 1,000 small business owners surveyed, “half say they employ staff without a college degree, and more than 60 percent notice no difference in performance among staff with varying education levels.” This is why many start-ups look beyond the traditional resume and background checks to assess their candidates for cultural fit. 

The core team that propels a start-up forward must be ripe with ideas, talent and skills.

Find out what makes working at a start-up different to working at an established company. 

Start your job search today.

For more information, please contact:
Simon Bromwell, Managing Director
+1 415.549.2000

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