When you're looking to grow your business and expand your team, you may be filled with questions... How do I make sure I’m hiring the right person? Where do I post about the job? How do I interview someone? And how do I find affordable talent?

As a business looking to hire, you have to work out exactly what you want from the candidate, create a job description, figure out where to host the advert, and work out if the person is right for the team, and do it all rather quickly!

So we've reached out to some of our community that have ‘been there, done that, and got the t-shirt' to find out their top tips and things to avoid when hiring on a budget for a startup.

How to attract affordable top talent to your startup

We spoke to the founder of 24 Fingers, Emma Goode, who highlighted the importance of listening to your gut when you're interviewing and later hiring someone, obviously alongside the other important checks that as a business owner you would take.

“Bad hires can cost you big time.”, Emma warns.

This is such an important message. While someone can be the perfect candidate on paper and have all the right credentials and experience, sometimes this does not translate off paper.

Budgets might be tight but startups need to be just as focused on quality control and having the right people who will not just perform, but feel the passion of the mission and help to create a culture that really delivers it – and attracts more great talent.

So cutting corners or making do can come at a high cost to productivity, peace of mind and ultimate success.

And then, that could mean you need to start the interview process again – costing more time and money to your business that you may not have factored into your original recruitment budget.

This is why the interview process is such an important step to ensure that you feel a person would fit easily into your business and be able to align themselves with the core values that you've set and tone you wish to uphold for the future.

Robert from CityMunch shared some wonderful tips on how to attract talent to your startup. He first told us about how important it is to have a clear job description, which emphasises what's good about the job and the areas that will allow the candidate to grow alongside the business.

In the job description, he says important pointers to include are the mission of the business, the traits that you're looking for, and clearly what's expected of the candidate. This will all help to make your search easier, and a clear criterion makes the job search easier for both you and the jobseekers.

Robert also stresses the importance of checking in with an employee once you have them onboard to make sure they're comfortable within the team. Outside of the 3, 6 and 9-month checks that businesses often do, you should be checking in and engaging with your employees regularly – checking how they're coping with work and making sure they're happy and managing well. This allows a person to feel more comfortable and can ensure they're producing the best level of work that they can.

As CityMunch is still in its early stages, Robert says that they often aren’t able to offer huge salaries like some corporate businesses or many of the ‘home comforts’ that they can. So he looks for candidates that have the same drive as him and the desire to advance the business as much as possible – someone who really makes the business their number one task and believes fully in it.

Farillio has used Inspiring Interns to source 2 of our team members. They've a wonderful team that's on hand to support both employers and candidates. And with video CVs provided alongside written ones, you can get a real insight into each candidate's personality as well as their skills.

We asked Ella Patenall from Inspiring Interns what advice she'd offer to people who are hiring, and the first thing she pointed out was that that hiring can be a real challenge and a rather costly and lengthy process...

...which means it is vital that you get it right from the start.

“We’ve had 9 years’ experience in matching graduates up to companies and have learnt a lot along the way. We’ve had to constantly adapt to the needs of the current grad pool, which is important in getting it right.”

The advice she'd offer to people looking to hire is to first to really know what they are looking for.

The more specific you can be about your hiring needs and job specification, the better...

...and the less likely it is you'll need spend more time and money on rehiring soon after!

For example, “If you are looking for a marketing candidate, do you want someone creative or someone more analytical? A team player, or someone who is happier to work autonomously?”, Ella adds.

Secondly, writing a good job specification is crucial. It doesn’t have to be a work of art, just nothing that's so vague and generic that the candidate will have no clue what they will be doing on a given day.

But then, on the other hand, putting too much detail might scare off candidates – they can be discussed in interviews, where you can explain the job in more detail and answer any questions they may have.

Her final piece of advice would be to not leave candidates or recruiters in the dark. Not communicating with candidates about what’s going on can make the stressful process of job hunting even more stressful and puts your company in a bad light.

Similarly, if you’re working for a recruitment company, they're the ones who relay info back to the candidate – so ensure you supply them with feedback!

Hiring employees for 1 business is a big job – but Dennie Smith, hair-salon owner and founder of dating agency, Old Style Dating, hires for 2! So we asked her to share a few tips and insights into how for hiring affordable talent varies between them.

For Old Style Dating, Dennie doesn't have any employees but she does outsource her social media. This includes the general upkeep of the agency's various social accounts, Facebook advertising and so on.

She found her social media candidates using budget-friendly ways such as through Twitter, word of mouth and recommendations.

And for her hair salon, she typically advertises jobs on the salon's Facebook account or in the traditional way of simply posting a sign in the salon window.

She emphasised the importance of putting shoutouts on social media and the talent that this kind of post can attract. And the number of replies she gets speaks volumes.

She also confesses to looking through the person's profile while she's there, gaining an extra insight into the candidate. She also stresses the importance of making sure that your post is well worded and shows exactly what is wanted.

Another fan of advertising jobs through social media, Emma from 24 Fingerspoints out that social media tends to attract creative, vibrant individuals, which is exactly the kind of people she looks for!

“I'm looking for people who can show passion and creativity, either through their previous work experience or personal projects.”

And social media is often where some of these interesting things are showcased, things that make a candidate different but that are often left out of the CV.

For example, the artwork or poetry that a candidate may write in their spare time to publish on their social media account might not be mentioned on an application form, CV or even during an interview – but it could give a hirer an extra insight into a candidates expertise and skillset relevant to the job on offer.

And it is certainly a quick, affordable way to promote your job – and with the correct use of tagging and hashtags, you can potentially reach a huge number of relevant candidates, too!

Not only that, but Emma also points out that with LinkedIn in particular, it can help you work out what a candidate might be like to work with, suggesting that business owners should use the platform to not only to run the recruitment ad but also to take into account personal recommendations.

Robert of CityMunch has also used LinkedIn as a place to host job adverts and agrees with Emma, saying, "they've done the heavy lifting for you already”. He praises how easy it is for people to reach the advert through the site, both in and out of their working day.

LinkedIn also has an email service that alerts people of jobs in a similar field to the one they are currently in, which again boosts responses and interest. And with tagging features, much like you would tag a friend in a meme or dog video on Facebook, you can tag people in a job search – making the job easily shareable and accessible.

And it's Robert who shared the most affordable way of hiring we've heard of so far... although it didn't involve advertising on Linkedin... he actually found an ideal candidate without even advertising the job at all!

Ella, who's currently CityMunch's head of business development, found the company and approached them before a job was even posted. She was so on board with the message and the aims and values of CityMunch, that she sent a personalised email message to Robert and made it clear that she was not only highly skilled, but truly invested in his business. This showed Robert that Ella would be a dedicated team player if she was to become part of the team, and she has since played such a vital part in the growth of the business!

Who should I hire first?

Another question that springs to mind when you first consider hiring is who you should hire first.

With limited budget, you'll likely only be able to hire 1 or 2 team members intitally – whether that's hiring employees, hiring workers, or hiring freelancers (you can find out the difference between these 3 in our guide to the different types of hire).

And so you need to work out which aspects of your business you need help with the most, the team member that'll help you to increase revenues the most – so that you can then afford to add more members to your team. For some inspiration, take a look at our blog post, Who should you hire first as a small business?

Employing staff on a budget: ways to attract top talent

When you're asking yourself how to employ staff on a budget, it's important to think about where your ideal candidates hang out.

In addition to the popular online hiring platforms, such as Reed, Indeed, etc., there are a huge variety of niche job boards that you may find speeds up the hiring process – and therefore likely reducing the cost of the hiring process too!

For example, we used Talent.io, a tech recruitment platform, to hire our most recent member of Farillio's development team.

And, rather serendipitously, while the candidate and our director of engineering were exchanging emails about the position, they bumped into each other as a conference! And, as they say, the rest is history.

This also highlights the benefit of attending industry events when you're thinking of hiring for your startup, as you may meet your next perfect hire while networking!

During our chat, CityMunch's Robert shared a budget-friendly tip for making your company attractive to prospective team members... by simply giving your website and online presence a bit of a ‘facelift.’

Robert said with a laugh that he shudders to think how many people have looked at their website after seeing the job advert and thought ‘probably not for me...’

After all, before applying for a job with your business, most candidates will likely have a look at your website and social media accounts to try to work out if it's the right kind of environment and business for them to work in. And simply tidying up your website, adding some blog posts, or simply posting regularly on your social media channels will help candidates get a stronger impression of your business.

Thank you so much to everyone who got involved with this blog! It's been so wonderful getting your insight into hiring affordable talent and learning about all your top tips and stories.

Have you got any budget hiring tips you'd like to share with the small business community? Join the conversation with Farillio on Twitter!

We hope that you have enjoyed this blog and have learnt lots of wonderful new tips and feel a bit more comfortable with the thought of hiring.

And if you're looking for more guidance, our step-by-step superguide to hiring your first employee should be very useful!

Originally published on Farillio, July 9 2019.