Getting the Right People for Your Startup
by Michael McLaughlin, 31st March 2015
Rating: 5.0/5.0 from 4 users
Your rating:

So you’ve got the cash for your startup. Next you need to think about getting a team together. Most startups will start small with one or two people, but it doesn’t take long before you are bogged down doing administrative tasks when you should be thinking about how to grow the business. There are many ways to keep costs low but also attract talented staff. Getting the right people that will foster the right company culture is pivotal, they say that culture trumps strategy.



The government internship scheme has had a lot of bad press. With some fine tuning it could be a really effective facility for people to get that much needed experience, that may not have otherwise been available. Where I fault the scheme is it’s use by MNCs like Microsoft that could easily afford to pay a reasonable wage. Ideally it should be used by small to medium sized business and startups to allow them to keep costs down but also provide good experience to the employee.  


If your startup has one employee who is employed for 30 hours per week and is subject paye and prsi you will likely be eligible.  


At the beginning it may be too costly to hire more than one full time member of staff but it could be useful having a contractor on a temporary basis to handle specific project work or for ad hoc duties. Its normally quite easy to get a temporary admin member of staff on short notice through one of the many recruitment agencies in Dublin. I have found Grafton Recruitment to be very helpful.


Recruiting a new employee is a key decision for a startup. You want someone with the basic skills to do the job but who will also gel with the founders. The workplace needs to be relaxed and comfortable and conducive to creative thought. Accountancy firms often make the mistake in thinking that because the work is of a serious nature the office should be too.

It could be worthwhile seeking a recruitment company to complete the process for you as it can be very labour intensive sifting through an abundance of applications and then finalising the interview process. There is a lot of paperwork around hiring a new member of staff and also many legal trapdoors so getting professional advice is recommended. I suggest meeting a potential employee for a cup of coffee in a casual environment, you will get a much better feel for what kind of person they are and if they fit. Sometimes the whole interview process can be too formal and nobody is their true self. 


Get a pen and paper out and list the key skills and personality type you want. Don’t be overly focused on their experience but more what they have learned and how those skills can be transferred to the new job. When interviewing try and get an idea how their mind works.The best way to do this is to ask random questions and see if they can create some semblance of logic in their answer. The days of asking ‘what is your main strength?’ are gone, you would more likely hear a question like ‘How many litres of Guinness are sold on Grafton street on a Saturday night?’. Google are the trailblazers of this style of interview as they know they can quickly work out what type of personality you have and your ability to think under pressure.

Check out these off-kilter questions for inspiration:


The modern workplace is the coffee shop you are closest to, in the city you happen to find yourself in. With that in mind employers need to be open to the possibility of hiring a freelance SEO specialist in Singapore or a PPC guru in Goa but how do you know if this guy will be a good remote worker?

I. They can work independently without micro management, these guys will get the job done, respond quickly and openly to feedback and won’t require a manager to crack the whip. 

II. They communicate regularly, whether that is on Google hangout or just standard email.

III. Have the necessary tools, these days that’s just a laptop and a coffee shop. 

Tips for hiring a remote worker/freelancer:

- Use a reputable hiring resource such as Elance. On this site you can get everyone from programmers to content writers and just like sellers on eBay they have reputations that you can trust. 

- Follow up with references. While someone’s reputation may read well on Elance it’s good to check references for previous work.

- The interview process for a remote worker will usually take the form of a phone or video interview on Skype.

- Explicitly define your goals, make sure you communicate clearly what you want done and what timeline you expect the work to be completed in.  


1. Manage job postings:

Go beyond the basic job description and really emphasise the unique benefits of working for your company. Create a clear distinction between you and your competitors by highlighting company values and company culture. If you pride yourself on having a flat cooperative structure make sure that is mentioned in the job listing. Top talent will only spend moments perusing the job spec and will hone in on whether they can relate to your company and believe in what you are doing. 

2. Nurture your company website: 

During a job interview a judgement is made within 30 seconds about a candidate.In the same vein when a potential employee is garnering information about a company, the design and information on the website will reveal a lot and first impressions last.  

3. Manage job applications with care: 

I’ve been through many different job applications over the years. Some companies keep you updated at every stage and give the impression of gratitude that you have taken the time to apply. This shows they are a conscientious employer and will professionally manage you. I’ve experienced a very unstructured process in comparison and it ended up being a reflection of the business across the board.  

There is an Irish company called Clinch that specialise in creating a brand and method for employers to attract top talent. They offer a great consultancy service that can help to reduce costs by engaging candidates as early as possible in the recruitment process.

The best people these days flock to companies that are ahead of the curve in how they run their business. If you want a creative person to join your company you can’t expect to seduce them with a stale grey 9-5 neolithic business environment. Anyone that has worked a Friday in a typical office can attest to the amount of time wasting that goes on. Innovation attracts innovators, so if you build it...

Other Ways to Connect with Talent in Ireland:

Job Websites/Job Events:

Dubstarts - Tech Jobs Fair (offline jobs fair event)  

Dublin Startup Jobs (low cost job listings to facilitate Dublin startups community)

Digital Marketing Jobs (job website managed by Digital Marketing Institute)

Networking Meetup Events:

Startup Grind Ireland (monthly event designed to help, educate, inspire and connect local entrepreneurs)

Entrepreneurs Anonymous Dublin (monthly meetup event for actual and aspiring entrepreneurs with a guest speaker)

Hackers and Founders Dublin Dublin (weekly tech community meetup event to bring together hackers and founders)

Silicon Drinkabout Dublin (weekly meetup for startups including techies, designers and business folks)

Creative Mornings   (breakfast lecture series for the creative community)

Digital Marketing:

eCommerce Association Ireland (meetup event for those that sell online or are trying to sell online)

Digital Marketing & Blogging Mastermind (bi-weekly meetup event for those who want to build their online businesses) 

Getting Started: 

Start-Ed: Legal Innovation and Education (Dublin)  (free one-to-one legal advice meetup and networking group)

Dublin Business / Entrepreneur Networking Group (monthly networking group for entrepreneurs)

Tech Events:   

Coding Grace (group of developers who love to code based in Ireland)

Web Summit (the best technology conference on the planet)  

Weekend Events: 

Startup Weekend Dublin  (Next #SWDub takes place between 10th-12th April). 

Don't forget to read our tips to make the most out of your experience at the next startup weekend!

Hack DCU (#HackDCU is the first one of its kind - will take place over the weekend of the 17th of April)

Hardware Hackathon (This one takes place between 22nd-24th May). 

Check out our exlusive video coverage of the last Hardware Hackathon Event - #HackDublin!

In Conclusion:

Choosing the right person for your startup is a very important decision but as discussed above there are a litany of resources to support you.The staff member you choose will be at the coal face driving your business forward so you need to choose wisely.If you establish a company with a rigid bureaucratic style you will never be able to attract top talent. Once you have managed to encourage the right people to join, give them the liberty to complete their jobs in peace. This freedom will spur innovation and your company will flourish.


  Michael is a recovering accountant. Having subjected himself to a litany of exams he decided that life is too short to count beans so instead he wants to chance his arm writing. When he is not with ink and quill you can find him levitating in a local yoga centre or baking caramel squares. Freelance content and copywriter, covering short and long content pieces across various different media forms. Don't forget to connect with Michael on LinkedIn and say Hi!: 

Author: Michael McLaughlin

Startup Newsletter
Are you into STARTUPS?   Join our NEWSLETTER!
Popular Startup Tips
The User as Hero
Product Innovation|Tips