At the beginning of any startup journey, founder(s) and first hires wear many hats. With all there is to do, you might not even think about the topic of hiring until there's a need for a new developer or salesperson. As you scale, this approach may become risky. Setting up a solid hiring plan can make any future hiring easier and benefit the company in many ways. Your hiring plan is also one of the things investors want to know about, so you might get asked about your team and how you plan to scale it in the next year.

Why is it important to create a hiring plan (now more than ever)?

Companies of all shapes and sizes are finding it harder to recruit skilled workers. There are labor shortages all around the world with nearly half of American companies being short on skilled workers. The hiring crisis means that filling positions might be harder and take you much longer than you expect.

Candidates will be evaluating you as much as you’ll be evaluating them. Some candidates are searching for companies they are eager to be a part of. Other candidates aren’t searching at all. They already have a job, so you have to offer something that will make quitting their current position worth their while. You'll need to understand what about your company attracts candidates and showcase your culture.

To respond to either of these challenges, you need time and preparation. That's where a hiring plan comes into action. With a hiring plan for your startup, you are being proactive. You're thinking about future hires way before it's time for sourcing and recruiting.

How to create a hiring plan for your startup?

Without further ado, here are some key steps you should consider when building a hiring plan for your startup from scratch.

1. Define your business goals

Before you start thinking about hiring, you need to map out your business goals. Determine what stage your startup is in and what goals you are striving to fulfill in the next period. Are you focusing on becoming a leader in one market, expanding to new markets or building your brand?

If you're scaling, think about how fast you should be growing and decide what is a good growth rate for you.

Write down all your specific goals and ways to achieve them. Develop your strategy, the next steps you need to take, and consider any challenges you may face.

2. What roles do you need to fill to achieve these goals?

Once you've defined your goals and growth rate, you can start thinking about your team. What gaps should you fill and how does your team need to grow to achieve the goals you set?

Here are some things you should look at:

  • Existing teams
    What teams need to grow and how many people will they need? You might want to have a discussion with each team. Then you'll have an idea of what roles, qualifications and experience each team needs.
  • New teams
    If you are forming new teams, examine how many people you need. For example, do you need one marketing manager or an entire marketing team? If you are unsure, having a consultation with an external recruitment partner might help (there are many to choose from on Relancer).
    🚨 Common mistake: Companies often look for unicorn employees who can do it all, but sometimes it’s not realistic that one person has all the necessary skills. An experienced recruiter could help you decide if you need to look for one person or open 2-3 positions.
  • In-house vs outsourcing
    Consider outsourcing functions that are not key to your startup to cut costs. Accounting is one of the functions that is often outsourced. Outsourcing parts of your recruitment process also has its advantages. Based on our own data at Relancer, companies usually seek on-demand recruiters for supporting rapid growth, specific roles and hiring abroad.

3. Calculate hiring costs

Getting your budget straight might be one of the most important steps of the hiring plan. This is where you might have to reevaluate your hiring needs. You can only afford to hire a certain number of people. So, you might brainstorm some new options to maximize the efficiency of your startup.
E.g. Are there some positions that could be part-time instead of full-time?

Recruitment costs can include:

  • Posting on job boards (AngeList is a popular one for startups)
  • Advertising
  • Any tools you may use for recruiting
  • In-house recruiter salary or fees of a recruitment agency/freelance recruiter

Don't forget to factor in the other costs of the new employees. These include not only salaries and benefits but also any equipment, tools, or training needed.

💡 Good to know: If you choose to work with an external recruiter or agency, paying their fee might be your only cost.

4. Don't forget the timeline

When evaluating your hiring needs, make sure to think about the timeline.
For every role you should consider:

a) the start date
Doesn't have to be an exact date but a point in the future when you'll likely need to fill a certain role. Do you need new developers ASAP or in 6 months? When defining start dates, take onboarding into account. You might not be able to onboard everyone at the same time.
b) time to hire
How much time do you need to fill a position and when do you need to start with recruiting? The number of days varies across industries. According to LinkedIn's recent data, it can take between 33 days for administrative roles and 49 days for engineering positions.

5. Start working on your hiring process

You're done planning your goals, needs, budget and timeline! Now, on to the actual hiring process. We could (and we might) make a whole new article about this topic, but we'll keep it short and give you the main points here.

Start establishing a hiring process structure. Determine how you're going to go about different steps of the process. Think about sourcing candidates, reviewing resumes, interviewing and start working on an employer branding strategy.

Consider getting external help for at least some parts of the hiring process. When it comes to recruiting, you have a few options:

All the options have their pros and cons and this guide might help you decide what is the best choice for you. You might want to consider combining a few of these options to best suit the stage of your startup.

Finally, don't forget that you can get as creative as you'd like with your process. Ryan Breslow, Founder and CEO of Bolt, talks about organizing Recruitatahons where the whole team sits down and starts outbounding through cold and warm outreach.

💡 Extra tip: Leave room for flexibility in your hiring plan

Creating your hiring plan might be as important as leaving room for some changes in there. You never know what unexpected challenge your startup might encounter. It's crucial to stay flexible and adaptable.


We hope that this article helps you start building a hiring plan for your startup. 😊

If you are looking for external recruitment partners to help you with your process, join us for a free consultation where we discuss your hiring goals, needs and challenges.

Just email us at [email protected] and we’ll set up the consultation! 💌