Hiring Trends in Startups

As is the case in many industries in 2022, startup leaders are shifting their hiring approach to attract and retain talent in a tight labor market. The competition in startup recruiting is high, making it more important than ever for companies to be flexible and use innovative new approaches when they need to expand their staff. Here are three trends startup leaders should be aware of before they start their next search. 

Digital Nomads are Driving Startup Hiring

In 2021, 82% of job seekers on the Work at a Startup hiring platform were looking for remote work, compared to fewer than 20% in 2019. Remote jobs in the startup sector, meanwhile, grew by a factor of 6.4 times compared to pre-pandemic levels, and nearly 70% of jobs on their platform in 2022 are remote or remote-friendly positions. 

Startups have historically been on the front edge of trends relating to technology. Smaller startups especially have been quick to adopt remote and hybrid work models, with many switching over 6 months or more before larger companies started to jump on the bandwagon. For those that haven’t, offering the option of remote work is quickly becoming not just a nice benefit, but a necessity for companies that want to attract and keep top talent. 

Hustle Culture Is Out

In the past, startups—especially those in the creative and tech fields—had a reputation as some of the worst offenders when it came to long-term employee mental health, with high rates of burnout and turnover. Until recently, companies could get away with mandatory overtime, always-on communication, and other boundary-violating behaviors that collectively fall under the description “hustle culture”. If team members quit, there was an assumption there would always be more talent waiting in the wings to take their place. 

The Great Resignation of 2021 hit companies with this type of work environment the hardest. Increasingly, even dedicated workers in fast-paced fields are looking for a more sustainable work/life balance, and are willing to quit their job to get it (or even change their career path entirely). And the Great Resignation isn’t over yet. According to the Korn Ferry 2022 Future of Work Trends report, 74% of professionals think employee turnover will continue to increase this year, and the data thus far supports this. This makes it more important than ever for startups to retain the talent they have, and that means adapting the culture to support employees’ mental health and life outside the workplace. 

More Internal Mobility Through Upskilling & Reskilling

Another way to keep talent around is to invest in their careers, and nothing demonstrates that investment like opportunities to learn and grow within the company. A system of promoting from within can also help companies cope with a tight labor market—they still have to hire for newly-vacated positions, but into less critical positions lower in the hierarchy that are often easier to fill. 

Creating both vertical and lateral mobility paths for employees can benefit your recruitment efforts as well as your retention. Candidates in the tech industry especially are attracted to companies that offer reskilling and upskilling programs, allowing them to keep their skill sets current and stay abreast of industry developments. Companies that have increased their internal mobility are already seeing benefits. Uber, for example, recently invested in an internal mobility program. Since its rollout, 30-40% of their hires have been internal, and those who took advantage of this internal mobility have stayed with the company twice as long. 

The State of Startup Hiring in 2022

Startups are often more agile than larger, established corporations, and those that lean in to this advantage will be best positioned to thrive in 2022. For some, this will mean improving processes to accomplish more with a smaller team. Others will gain more by introducing programs that job seekers value, like workplace flexibility and skill development. The bottom line is that there’s no telling when (or if) the labor market will become less competitive. Startups that adapt their culture and hiring practices to the current reality will have the most success attracting and keeping talent.

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