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The 3 Telling Personality Traits Startups Look For In Employees

Find the right mix of hunger, realistic expectations, and absence of entitlement, and you’ll have a committed startup team.

The 3 Telling Personality Traits Startups Look For In Employees
[Photo: Flickr user Startup Weekend Leuven]

It’s an exciting time to be part of a startup, especially in my native Vancouver. Startups are popping up all over the city with new ways to change the world, and they are aggressively looking for the best talent to help turn their goals and vision into a reality.

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Regardless of where your startup is based, in order to be successful with your hiring efforts, you need to plan ahead and hire tomorrow’s stars rather than the stars of today. Although experience is important, the smarter bet is to hire someone based on long-term potential and cultural fit. It may take them a little longer to get started, but it’s definitely worth it when you witness them flourish into tomorrow’s startup stars.

How do you go about finding the right people? Be strategic and intentional with your efforts from the very beginning. Avoid hiring smart talent that’s wrong for your startup. While you need someone who has the technical skills and abilities to do the work that needs to be done, it’s important to look beyond the résumé. Sometimes a candidate looks good on paper, but so many other factors trump their experience.

Here are three key areas that we take into consideration when hiring at Trulioo:

1. Entitlement

Today’s stars and seasoned veterans often find it hard to adapt to lean startup budgets. They may be accustomed to working within well-established organizations with big fat budgets. They may also be accustomed to being showered with over-the-top perks and privileges from the corporate world, which don’t exist in a real startup. Startups have to run a tight ship financially. After all, we have worked hard to secure our funding, and our investors are counting on us to give them a good return for their money. Just look at Facebook, Google, and Apple–they started from humble beginnings, working out of someone’s garage or dorm room. If you want to work for a startup, it’s best to leave your sense of entitlement at the door.

2. Hunger

By their very nature, startup entrepreneurs are hungry for success. We are highly motivated, ambitious, and eager to get the job done and done right. We never define limits, hours, or roles. We will do whatever it takes. Any employee that joins a startup needs to share the same hunger for their own goals, and it’s important that they feel the company can help them reach those goals. They must show that they are go-getters that have the drive to succeed, and be willing to go the extra mile whenever necessary.

3. Expectations

When some people think “startup,” it usually conjures up glamorized images of employees playing foosball, gourmet meals prepared by culinary chefs, and daily yoga classes. Let’s be honest. The reality is that startups are hard, very hard. Coverage in the media does not usually tell the whole story about the engineer who hasn’t eaten all day because he’s been there for 14 hours rewriting code and scripts to put out fires. There is a lot of work to be done. And given that startups have fewer staff to carry the same load usually taken on by larger teams in corporate environments, everybody is expected to do whatever is needed to get the job done.

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There’s no room for “that’s not in my job description” in a startup.

Stephen Ufford is founder and CEO of Trulioo. He has founded and successfully sold several consumer data focused startups over the last decade. In 2011, he launched Trulioo, a global ID verification company focused on building trust online, best privacy practices, and financial inclusion. Trulioo aims to solve global problems associated with verifying identities online. Ufford is also a member of the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs.

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