As leading executive recruiters in Northern California, Pacific ExecSearch knows developing a top executive team is critical for the success of any company, but it’s especially imperative for a start-up. One wrong hire can be the difference between long-term viability and failure. If you think you’re ready to hire your first executive, consider these tips before you embark on the process:

Know when to hire.

Hiring your first executive is an important step in your start-up. But don’t rush it prematurely. Doing so can seriously impact your overhead and bottom line without adding value. Hire an executive only when your start-up clearly needs one – once you’ve assembled your core team and found product-market fit.

Define your deal breakers.

There’s no “right fit” executive for a start-up. It depends on your particular needs. However, there are likely certainly “must haves” and “deal breakers” that are important for your first executive hire. Think through what these are before you start the hiring process. Also, know your weaknesses. Understanding areas of inexperience is important (for instance, global sales and negotiations) because it will give you greater insight into the executive role you need to fill.

Promote from within.

Developing and promoting someone from within offers a host of benefits. First, you get to retain your top people by offering opportunities for advancement. Second, you know the candidate’s skill set, work ethic, attitude, and strengths and weaknesses, thereby minimizing the risk of a hiring mistake. Third, the candidate is already familiar with your culture, values and mission – translating into less time to get engaged.

Know what to look for.

When hiring an executive for your start-up, look for results – accomplishments achieved, goals met, savings achieved, awards given, and other signs of positive output. A candidate can have all the right experience, but if they aren’t able to offer a clear pattern of results, then they’re not going to operate well within a start-up environment. Validate by checking references from past managers and subordinates, and conducting personality tests.

In addition to results, your first executive hire should be someone passionate about what you’re building. You want someone willing to roll up his or her sleeves and make an impact. Compensation and perks will obviously be part of the discussion, but they should be secondary to the opportunity to make a difference.

Partner with an executive recruiter.

If you’ve never done the job you’re hiring for, then finding the right executive candidate can be a challenge. One way to overcome it is to partner with an executive recruiter. A reputable one knows where to source the best candidates, what to evaluate, and how to assess fit. In addition, they can help you avoid any unconscious biases (such as favoring a candidate who aligns with your own personal values and opinions) that may lead you to hire the wrong individual for your business.

Finding talent for an executive role at a start-up can be one of the more challenging tasks you undertake in 2015. It’s a complicated process that you must allocate sufficient time and energy towards. If, however, you don’t have the resources in place to hire right, Pacific ExecSearch can help. As leading executive recruiters in Northern California, we have extensive experience in sourcing, evaluating and helping companies hire top industry professionals. To learn more about how we can help your start-up, please contact us today.