software developers waiting in line for their interviews

How long does it take to hire somebody in a startup or scaleup?


Sometimes the decision to hire is based on who walks in the door. At the very early stages of a startup the need for fluidity is understandable. But once a company has got beyond the first five or six employees it’s important to start looking at recruitment as a critical business process. It delivers those who will deliver everything else.


It’s All About the Forecast

Resource requirements will of course change depending on finance, client wins and other events. However, the most basic building block for recruitment is a headcount forecast. A simple spreadsheet or scrawl on the wall will do. Whatever you do, define the headcount requirement as best you can and for as far out as you can. 


…And Planning

When planning at a high level there are a couple of things to remember. From the time you agree to open a role, to the time you get a bum on a seat typically takes 10 weeks or more. That’s a long lead in time. Onboarding and getting people productive adds more time. There are of course exceptions and some people do get hired faster, but in terms of planning, three months is realistic for professional roles. Here’s why:

  • Agree role, write job spec, revise job spec, agree salary range, publish to careers site, job boards, communicate to employees (referrals) and agencies – one week.
  • Review CVs, grumble they aren’t good enough, push referrals and agencies, wait, curse the gods, time passes, build up enough CVs to actually start lining up interviews – one week to one month.
  • Run screening calls, arrange first round interviews, fall in love with amazing candidate, candidate takes another offer with a crazy salary and stock options, interview more candidates at first round, progress through to final round, somebody goes on holidays delaying things more, make offer, candidate thinks about it, negotiate offer, candidate accepts offer, hallelujah – one week to one month.
  • Candidate hands in her notice, employer counter offers, to and fro again, partner and friends give input, candidate really hands in notice but needs a few days off for their honeymoon and has four weeks notice period at best – add another month.

In the best case scenario above it will take almost two months to get a bum on your office chair. It’s more likely to take closer to three months or more to make that hire.

If the gods are good and you push hard it can happen faster. But as the saying goes: “nine women can’t have a baby in one month.” Plan accordingly. helps companies build high-performance software development, support and sales teams throughout Europe. 

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