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Tips for staffing a start-up in agri-tech

Posted on June 01 2017 | Author: Jessica Bowes

Hiring the first few employees is a big step for early stage businesses. Expanding the team could mean that the founder recognizes they can’t do everything by themselves or that they don’t have the necessary skills or experience for a specific aspect of the business. Or, maybe a new perspective is needed in order to grow.

Whatever the reason, fundamentally it will ultimately change the business by increasing bandwidth. If you can find the right person, suddenly you will be able to do more, faster.

So, how do ensure that you’re hiring the right person?

Know what you want and where you are willing to compromise. Keeping the stage of the company in mind, conduct thorough research on what the role will look like. Also, think about what kind of talent is needed today, 1 year out, 3 years out, and even 5 years out. It might be helpful to benchmark other companies in key areas.  Are you looking for someone with specific skills? Knowledge? Experience? What are critical skills for success: domain experience or behavioural/personal attributes? The reality is, having it all is usually not an option.

Cast a wide net. Recruit far and wide, searching in adjacent sectors or even geographical locations. Narrow the list through successive assessments. And, if you can afford it, work with sector-specific job sites, new-graduate programs, and talent acquisition firms. And, don’t forget to use your network!

Hire for potential, not just past experiences. Look for someone who has a strong interest or passion for causes that are similar to yours and the company vision. Whether it be a technical doer, an impact player with a unique set of skills (e.g. R&D manager), or a star performer who will achieve greatness no matter the task, try and find someone with a combination of skills and passion.

If possible, have everyone on the team interview the strongest candidates. Typically, an entrepreneurial team is made up of passionate people with very different personalities and work styles; so take the time for everyone to meet the star candidates. And don’t be afraid to have multiple interviews to ensure the new person will fit in well with the existing team. Establishing a productive working dynamic right from the get-go is crucial!

What you want won’t likely come cheap. Do your research to find out what the market is currently paying. If you hold out for your salary max, you may have to lower expectations. And remember, candidates are always looking for a step-up in compensation from their current situation.

For start-ups in the agri-technology sectors, there are some valuable recruiting resources and talent partners for consideration when it’s time to grow your team.

 

Kincannon & Reed

Kincannon & Reed, one of Bioenterprise’s corporate partners, is a retained executive search firm engaged by organizations around the world to recruit impact players in the food, agribusiness, and life sciences sectors. Unlike many “international” search firms, the company operates as a single office with multiple locations. Ideas, contacts, insights are freely exchanged among the principals and researchers globally. This enterprise-wide collaborative approach translates into a competitive edge for clients.

BioTalent Canada

As the HR partner of Canada’s bio-economy, BioTalent Canada focuses on building partnerships and skills to ensure the industry has access to job-ready people. Through projects, research and product development, BioTalent Canada connects employers with job seekers, delivers human resource information and skills development tools so the industry can focus on strengthening Canada’s biotech business.  For employers, there is The PetriDish job board for posting opportunities and a few different wage subsidy programs to support hiring new graduates or employees with disabilities.

AgCareers.com

The AgCareers.com mission is to provide global talent solutions in agriculture and food by offering employers talent attraction solutions, a high-calibre human resources conference, compensation benchmarking, talent pipeline development, and much more.

If you would like more information or to make contact with any of the organizations listed above, and/or some assistance developing your staffing strategy please contact Jessica Bowes, Manager of Bioenterprise’s Analyst Team at jessica.bowes@bioenterprise.ca.

Sources:
Wightman, J. (2016). The search is over [Kincannon & Reed Powerpoint slides]. Available upon request.
Koloc, N. (date). 7 Keys to Hiring Your Start-up’s First Employee. [Web log post]. Retrieved May 1, 2017, from https://www.themuse.com/advice/7-keys-to-hiring-your-startups-first-employee
https://stock.adobe.com/ca
 

Jessica Bowes
Manager, Business & Technology Analyst Group






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