There were over 20,000 new business licenses issued in Dubai last year. The number of new business licenses issued in Dubai have been growing by more than 10 percent year-on-year. With thousands of new startups sprouting in the UAE, there is an increasing demand for valuable talent, because to be the best you have to hire the best.
Working for a startup offers some unique challenges as well as unmatched learning opportunities. A startup can only succeed if it has the right blend of talented people to help grow it. These are the qualities we look for when it comes to hiring for our start ups…recognize some of the traits ?
Are you a self-starter?
To have someone able to cope with the demanding nature of work in a startup, they must be capable of taking initiative without constantly looking up for direction. The best form of motivation is self-motivation and if a prospective employee isn’t self-motivated, any amount of external motivation is not going to help. People who are self motivated, don’t need an agenda but figure it out for themselves. This is what I call being ‘low maintenance’ – someone that goes out of his way and figures out what his role is and extends it to anything that would grow the business. This is generally seen in their experience, how they describe themselves and more specifically what is important to them.
Are you hungry for success?
That’s why I like hiring people who are in the middle or beginning of their career (not to mention the lower cost to the business) as they are still hungry to grow and learn – the thirst of learning about new industries is gold – I would pick someone who knows nothing about the industry but is hungry to learn over someone with industry experience but no hunger to grow.
I remember when I was looking for my internship in London while at INSEAD, Investment banking was an industry I had never been in and definitely didn’t have the background to do so. I used my contacts to meet current employees of each bank in London and flew out from France to spend half a day with each. The impact this had in my interviews was unbelievable. I had shown that I was hungry to learn and that I really wanted the opportunity. And this also demonstrated my go-getter attitude since I did not just sit there and take what the industry standard dictated. I went out and tried to make myself suitable for the industry.
Are you flexible?
To succeed in a startup, flexibility is probably the one thing that would either make you like or dislike your job. There is no hierarchy, but most of the time you need to get things done.
Every employee in a startup should be a ‘roll your sleeves up and get down to work’ kind of individual. We need people who aren’t afraid of getting their hands dirty and can do every kind of work as and when it’s required, even though it may not be part of their primary job responsibilities. Someone who isn’t always eager to delegate but can individually handle tasks that need to be finished, is the type of person you should be looking for. Which is why I like the young, down to earth, eager to learn and very smart candidates. However, having said that, it is critical to have a very good senior management team – who know how to delegate and how to motivate their team to get the job done. This is why you would very often see very young COO or CFOs in many start ups.
Are you a team player?
The brightest talent may not always yield the best results if they don’t work cohesively in a team. You need someone with the right attitude to be part of a winning team – good communicator, open to others’ opinions and most important of all, someone who has the interests of the team at heart. Such people will be an asset for your company, but aren’t always easy to find. When looking for a good team player, ask the right questions. You could ask a candidate about the achievements of his previous team and keep track of how often he mentions ‘I’ instead of ‘We’. Don’t confuse enthusiasm with aggression. Individuals who are aggressive will try to dominate and cause conflict within the team. Another good tip about team player is to ask what frustrates them most with their team.
Are you a hard worker?
At the end of the day it’s hard work that makes all the difference. Startups need people who watch results not clocks (this statement comes from a candidate who approached me for a role). Working for a start-up may require putting in those extra hours after work or maybe even working over the weekend if need be. Occasionally you may face genuine crunch times where you would be stretching yourself thin and will have to put work before everything else. If a potential candidate is hesitant and not flexible in this respect, he is not right for your company. On the other side, we as founders have to make sure that we give the team a break and allow them the time to think about the next big thing. Not an easy balance to achieve.
Are you loyal?
Loyalty is a character trait that can’t be assessed easily. At the most a person’s career history and the reason behind why he or she left one organization for another could give you some insight into how loyal they are. If the reasons are genuine and for the sake of career growth rather than being motivated by a lucrative salary alone, there is nothing wrong with changing jobs. Knowing what motivates them and whether they would be happy in the type of role and work environment you’re offering will help ensure that they are fully invested in seeing the company grow and are not likely to jump ship at the first offer that comes their way. One way to increase loyalty is for founders to have their team involved in the growth of the company by being transparent and even giving away stock options. You want every employee to work as if it was their business.