How to Address Startup Hiring Challenges with Kevin Kinkor

4 min read

Despite signs of a possible recession on the horizon, unemployment rates remain at all time lows. Nowhere is that more true than in tech where the unemployment rate totals just 1.3 percent.  Competition for tech talent remains fierce, but startup hiring experts say finding and recruiting talent can be especially difficult for tech startups who often find themselves competing with startups in other verticals as well. 

“To acquire the talent you want, you’re competing with a whole host of companies, not just companies in your vertical but multiple verticals,” says Kevin Kinkor who has more than 20 years of experience in talent acquisition and human resources. “Really aligning the entire organization around what you’re trying to do and where the talent gaps are and where the priorities are is essential. When that’s not done correctly, you end up hiring the wrong people at the wrong time.” 

Kinkor is the Co-Founder and CEO of Kinkor Consulting, a talent optimization firm that helps startups build foundational and scalable talent acquisition systems, processes, and strategies. He will be among the panelists in a roundtable discussion on startup team dynamics at this year’s Founders Network fall conference. The theme for fnSummit 2022 is founder and startup growth. In addition to the panel, Kinkor will share his expertise helping startups grow their teams during office hours.

Here’s a look at the startup hiring challenges founders face and how to address them.


According to a recent report, finding candidates with relevant skills is the number one challenge hiring managers face. Research shows this is especially true in tech where recruiters face a limited pool of candidates with relevant experience. That’s why Kinkor says building an effective recruitment and hiring process is essential.

“When companies get to that high growth stage, they find it’s hard to hire,” Kinkor says. “It’s not just about hiring your friends or colleagues. It’s about having a recruiting process that will allow them to attract and hire top talent.”

The Stakes

Over the past decade, Kinkor says startups have been spending a minimum of $10,000 to hire a new employee. Sometimes the cost can be as high as $25,000. That’s why it’s important to make sure your new addition is a good fit. 

“The ability to live or die as a company oftentimes is about building a solid team. It really is your people that are going to push you through. They’re going to come up with ideas. They’re going to build things and sell them,” Kinkor says. “A lack of talent, motivation or support will often lead to a company failing, burning through their money, and losing the confidence of the investment community, no matter how good their idea is. It’s critical to have the right people if you want to be successful.”

The Solution

Kinkor says startups must invest in startup hiring in the same way they invest in other aspects of their startup. Marketing consistently ranks high on lists of startup spending priorities, but few marketing dollars are directed toward promoting a startup’s employer brand.

“Your company sells two products, it sells your core product and your employer brand,” Kinkor says. “Look at everything you utilize to sell your core product. You should be doing the same to sell your employer brand so that candidates can really feel who you are.”

fnSummit 2022 encapsulates the Founders Network experience, giving startup founders the opportunity to learn from other tech founders in the startup ecosystem, build deep relationships with investors, and uncover solutions to the challenges they’re facing. The annual event provides the perfect setting for off the record discussion, reflection, and networking.

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