Smart Recruitment: Training And Building Your Future Workforce

By: Shanza Anwaar

From startups to multinational corporations, the core of success hinges on building a team with the right people for a growing business. As startup entrepreneurs soon learn, it’s difficult to find and fund committed employees in the cash-strapped and changing work environment of a startup.

Here are 3 of the most common startup hiring challenges:

Embracing the startup structure. Startups are at best tempests at sea. Everything can change in the blink of an eye. There is flux of all kinds – good and bad. Most recruits with experience in established enterprise environments may have a difficult time adapting to the ever-changing environment of a startup. New employees often feel discouraged if they get “lost in the mix” and are not “given” formal work to be productive.

Your talent needs change if the business pivots. Spending valuable resources such as time and money to hire and integrate an employee, only to learn the very specific skill-set may not match your changing needs can be a real setback. This is why startup founders must have a long-term vision and plan ahead.

Turnover. You may discover that a certain position in your company has a lot of turnover. With many companies offering flexible work hours and virtual mobile work options, candidates don’t put in the same commitment that is required for a particular position which is problematic for any size business but could be a real drain on a resource-strapped startup.
There are creative ways to address these issues. A potential solution for attracting a pool of talented employees at reasonable cost is by establishing an “Earn While You Learn” program at your company. Windsor, Ontario based Valiant Machine & Tool Inc. offers an “earn-while-you-learn” program that provides training and pay for its students. At $12 an hour, students learn “operating, welding, robot programming and other metalworking skills”. Within four years of its creation, the program has become one of the most sought-after substitutes for conventional apprenticeship programs.

Perhaps the best part about this program is that it helps Valiant maintain a competitive workforce by retaining 95% of its students upon graduation. The “earn-while-you-learn” model was originally considered due to a lack in Valiant’s own workforce. Since the foundation of the program in 2008, all 80 students that were initially enrolled in the apprenticeship are now working for Valiant.

By utilizing a similar program in your startup, you not only train your potential employees but give them the skills needed to adapt to the work culture of your evolving business. Are you a techie and new to this talent recruitment arena? Take advantage of the expertise of mentors at virtual incubators and innovation centres like the Altitude Accelerator where Entrepreneurs-in-Residence and Volunteer Advisors provide extensive knowledge as well as access to resources in order to help your startup. Check out finding talent section in RIC’s website for a great place to start working with paid and unpaid interns right here in the Region of Peel.

Here are some resources to help you successfully build a startup team:
•   “Hiring for Attitude”, a book that details how to hire smart.
•   Shane Snow shares tips on hiring techies at FastCompany.
•   Eric Ries’ groundbreaking book, “The Lean Startup” is a must-read for all entrepreneurs.


Shanza is a Social Media Intern at Altitude Accelerator. Pursuing two undergraduate majors in anthropology and professional writing at the University of Toronto Mississauga, Shanza is also a co-editor and content writer at the Digital Enterprise Management Society. She hopes to make her mark as a Social Media Consultant.

The RIC blog is designed as a showcase for entrepreneurs and innovation. Our guest bloggers provide a wealth of information based on their personal and professional experiences. Visit Altitude Accelerator for more information on how RIC can accelerate your ideas to market.

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