Key Traits to Consider When Looking for New Hires Who Can Help You Grow

What is one skill or attribute you look for when hiring an early-stage employee who can grow with your burgeoning company?

Hiring early-stage employee for a startup

These answers are provided by Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. YEC has also launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

1. Self-Awareness

Knowing one’s own limitations is crucial. A great employee will know concretely what they are and aren’t good at, as well as how to tell when they need to stop and ask for help. At growing companies, self-awareness is crucial because there won’t be a lot of time or resources for training and oversight, and self-management will be much more effective during the early stages.

Roger Lee, Captain401

2. True Grit

Regardless of what your opinion is of Hollywood remakes, true grit can never be overdone in early-stage startups. There’s going to be resistance to change and setbacks. You need to hire employees who sleep with their boots on and aren’t afraid to charge a mob that has them outnumbered three to one.

Tim Chaves, ZipBooks Accounting Software

3. Flexibility

Flexibility is such an important attribute because as the company grows and potentially pivots, employees needs to be able to fit in where needed and adapt to an ever-changing environment. The more flexible they are, the more valuable they will become to the company over time.

Diana Goodwin, AquaMobile

4. Enthusiasm

It takes enthusiasm to work through the ups and downs of an early-stage business because every day may bring something different. This enthusiasm is often tied to a positive outlook.

Peter Daisyme, Calendar

Startup job interview

5. Tenacity

In the world of startups, timing is especially important, which is why I look for employees with tenacity. I’ve found that tenacious employees take quick action to resolve potential problems, are highly productive given their time management and show flexibility as things change with the company. At a growing company, these skills are essential to success.

Mark Krassner, Expectful

6. A Desire to Grow With You

If a potential candidate shows a vested interest in the “what next” of the company instead of just the “what now,” I’m pretty confident they are interested in developing themselves as we grow. If someone seems not only interested, but also invested and part of the conversation for our “what next,” I can tell they aren’t just using this position as a stop gap.

Jen Brown, The Engaging Educator

7. Curiosity

Curiosity (i.e. someone who asks “why?”) is essential. I also look for a positive attitude. Curiosity indicates a vested interest in the underlying “why” that drives what we’re doing. A positive attitude is just more pleasant to be around.

Brian David Crane, Caller Smart Inc.

8. A Focus on Finding Solutions

Strong employees, particularly those in small, growing and dynamically changing companies, have the ability to identify broken processes, develop potential solutions, get buy-in from colleagues and drive execution. They don’t complain about issues, but instead actively fix them for the benefit of their team members and organization as a whole.

Jonathan Gass, Nomad Financial

9. Confidence

I like to know I am surrounded by people who are not afraid to speak up and share their ideas and opinions. I want to have people who are confident enough to say what’s on their minds. I may not always have the best approach, so I need a team of people who can tell me that.

Murray Newlands, ChattyPeople

Startup employee

10. Entrepreneurial Spirit

When starting a company, you shouldn’t look for good employees but instead look for independent self-starters with entrepreneurial spirits who want to take risks, face challenges and eventually start their own companies. Why? Because their mentality is what will allow them to weather the hardships startups face. Their hunger to grow makes them excellent leaders that can lead your employees.

Dan San, Meural

11. Agility and Adaptability

When I am hiring, I look for agility in the candidate. He/she must be smart and independent, but also must be agile and adapt to change quickly because our business is constantly evolving and changing.

Kristin Marquet, Creative Development Agency, LLC

12. Willingness

Each candidate is evaluated by the value that they will bring to our products, services or agency promotion. Certain candidates have decades of experience or weeks — time does not matter if the person is unwilling to adapt their current skill set and grow into new roles the company requires. Closing an HR gap requires creative thinking by myself, and willingness by a new hire.

Matthew Capala, Alphametic

13. Good Attitude and Matching Values

It is easy to find employees with experience, but not as easy to find those with good attitudes and values that match your goals and culture. However, this does not mean your team should be a replica of you. They should be the missing pieces in your business puzzle.

Blair Thomas, eMerchantBroker