The success of a startup depends on many factors like timing, funding, business model, etc. But here are two of the most important factors: 

A. Your first 10 employees

B. The positions you hire for first

It’s crucial for startups to accomplish both of these factors with as few errors as possible. With the right ATS, you can attract the right candidates for each position, understand where your skill gaps are, create accurate job descriptions, track each application, evaluate your candidates, run background checks, create offer letters, roll them out, and onboard your new employees—all from one platform. Here’s a simple 8-step guide to hire your first 10 employees:

1. Understand your requirements and budget

Before you start hiring, it’s imperative to lay out your hiring plan—even if it’s just for a couple of open positions. This means:

Calculating the total spending required to attract the right candidates for the right job—startups often spend way over the budget than initially planned, which can be detrimental in the long run. Planning and managing recruitment costs are extremely important for early-stage startup hiring.

2. Create detailed job descriptions for every role

One of the best ways to avoid wasting time wading through irrelevant resumes and candidates is by posting highly specific job descriptions that attract relevant applications. It’s important to add your startup’s character to your job descriptions and make them as clear and descriptive as possible. This attracts the right candidates for the right positions. 

The job descriptions need to be drafted by the hiring manager to make sure that there’s maximum clarity on what’s required and what’s expected of the role. Here are a few things to include while writing job descriptions for your startup:

3. Build your employer branding

Employer branding plays a significant role in the quality of candidates that apply to your startup, employee happiness, employee retention rates, etc. Factors like: 

–all affect your employer branding and determine the quality of candidates that you can attract, hire, and retain. 

Even though most startups cannot afford to pay the highest monetary compensation, there are other factors that help candidates decide whether or not to choose your startup. The better your employer branding, the more advantage you hold over your competitors and peers while hiring. 

4. Decide what positions to fill first and from where


What channels you use to hire your first 10 hires depends on what roles you’re hiring for too. Apart from the founders, of course, here are the 10 most important roles to hire in a startup and the best channels to hire them from:

Sales is one of the most important roles in an early-stage startup. This is the role you need to fill to start generating revenue and kickstart your startup’s growth trajectory. Hiring a good candidate to lead your sales effort will determine a constant revenue stream. 

Where can you source your startup’s Head of Sales?

Your marketing efforts need to start right alongside your sales—and your head of marketing is crucial in determining and building your customer base. The person you hire for this role needs to be extremely creative and hands-on since marketing for an early-stage startup is extremely important to get right. 

So here are the channels through which you can source your Head of Marketing:

The Head of Content will work closely with Marketing and Sales to make sure that the right audience is targeted with the right content—and aid in generating more revenue for your startup. The Head of Content manages graphic designers and freelance content creators to coordinate sales and marketing efforts. Apart from regular job boards, social media is a great channel to source the right fit for this job. Post on both channels simultaneously with the right ATS like Freshteam.  

You need someone to complement the efforts of your sales and marketing personnel—this might be through offline marketing material design, sales brochure design, email campaign design, UI/UX design for better customer experience and conversion, etc. There are some great channels from which you can hire your designer apart from the regular channels:

The Founder of a startup often unofficially plays the role of the Product Manager until the role is filled—not only does that mean more time saved for the Founder, but also more focused expertise brought to how the product or service is positioned and priced appropriately. 

You can find the right product managers through job boards, sponsored job postings, as well as through your existing network—including your talent pool


You’ve almost laid the foundation for your startup’s success—but once your sales and marketing efforts are underway, you definitely need to ensure a better customer experience to stand out among your competition—and the best way to do that is by hiring the right Customer Success Expert. This hire is in charge of creating and maintaining SLAs with new and existing customers and ensuring they stay loyal to your brand. 

Hire the right ones through channels like LinkedIn, Glassdoor, Indeed, and other popular job boards. Make sure you attract the best talent by writing a precise and detailed job description. 

Chances are that your startup relies heavily on technology as most successful companies do—and the best way to stay on top of your game is by hiring the right CTO for your startup. Your chief technology officer takes control of software, coding, testing, debugging, and more. Some of the best places to find the right person for this job are:

Managing a startup's finances is a critical function—and if this isn’t monitored right from day 1, funds run dry a lot sooner than expected and can affect your startup’s sustainability. Hiring a Chief Financial Officer means streamlining your long-term financial spending and planning, managing revenue streams and sales forecasts, and of course, your startup’s tax reporting. 

The CFO also keeps a record of your payroll activity, and other budgets to always ensure that your startup has a longer cash runway.


The COO focuses on the day-to-day operations that ensure that your business keeps running smoothly—though this may not seem necessary for an early-stage startup, a COO is one of the most important employees and has to be one of the first 10 roles that you fill. 

And finally, you need a human resources manager—someone who can help you handle all of the other 9 employees plus freelancers that you now have on your payroll. And the best way to supplement the efforts of your HRM and make their life easier is by using the industry’s best HR software for startups. This helps your HR manager to be more accurate, manage employees and candidates a lot more efficiently, and ensure that all your employees are happy and productive at all times. 

You can hire the best HR managers via LinkedIn and Twitter, but also by attending HR conferences and growing your network. 

5. Look for these important traits in your first hires


Working for an early-stage startup comes with its own challenges and advantages. You need employees that are up for the challenges—and you need ones that overcome the challenges quickly. Here are some traits that you need to look out for:

Creating a detailed recruitment funnel can help streamline this entire process and make it much easier to spot the right candidates. 

6. Create a thorough interview and evaluation process

Ensure that you design the right assessment tests and interview processes to measure the candidates’ skills and eligibility for the role. The wrong decision here can cost your startup a lot of time and resources. Using a good candidate screening software that will help you: 

7. Offer the right startup package 

Though a startup may not be able to compete with other companies monetarily, it can offer unique things to the candidates to convert them into an employee. These can be things like:

More than anything, offering all of these things quickly is the key. If you don’t roll out the offer within 48 hours after your final interview, chances are you’ve lost your ideal candidate to another company. An offer management software can help you roll out an accurate offer as quickly as possible.

8. Retain your employees with a good onboarding process

Onboarding new employees is crucial for startups. The new employees need to be familiarized with the work culture and environment as smoothly and quickly as possible to improve the employee experience, success rate, and of course, retention. Onboarding is overlooked and chaotic in most organizations—but good employee onboarding software helps you make the process a lot faster and much more efficient. It can help you:


How to hire employees for your startup for free?

Using the right software, you can hire employees from multiple job boards for free and bring down your cost of recruitment by almost 80%. Freshteam, the award-winning ATS for startups comes Free Forever for growing businesses—you can also add more features as you grow with Freshteam’s pricing plans. Try it here for free and you’ll wonder why you didn’t do so before.

How do you know when to hire your first employee?

Here are 6 signs that tell you it’s time for your first hire: