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[This is a sponsored article with JobStreet.]

I’ve interviewed many entrepreneurs who became the managers of their companies with little to no prior HR—or any business management—experience. 

With hiring, firing, and retaining talent piled onto their plates, they must also set the tone of their company’s culture. Surely, they’ve suffered some hiring mistakes in the past.

These pain points are what JobStreet hopes to alleviate for SMEs, with its range of HR solutions to help companies of all sizes find and secure the right talents.

Following that, JobStreet called on us to find five Malaysian SME bosses to learn about their biggest hiring mistakes, and how they overcame them to build valuable teams for their companies.

They are:

Rushing to hire, and believing that skills supersede bad attitudes

Recurring mistakes these founders made included rushing their hiring processes, and hoping a candidate’s bad attitude could be exchanged for skills.

It was a mistake Sarah made at her media company. This led to toxicity and unhealthy cliques forming, due to a lack of transparency building up among the company’s members. 

“Looking back, all the signs were there,” Sarah reflected, “I shouldn’t have excused poor character just because of the presence of skills.”

Image Credit: Sarah Enxhi

Restaurateur, David faced a similar situation when he hired a young European chef for his French fine dining restaurant in Shanghai. 

David shared that the hot-tempered chef would dictate how the restaurant was run while refusing to follow instructions, and believing he was above customers.

When Carliff was setting up his SaaS startup, he hired contract workers for ad-hoc projects to fulfil specific needs at a time. 

While this worked fast in building YesHello’s software, it was difficult to repurpose short-term employees for other projects. They simply weren’t a good fit for the company, nor did they intend to stay.

Did you know: JobStreet’s Talent Search gives employers access to its passive candidate pool, and you can filter job seekers by searching for desired skills and other relevant keywords, then reach out to them easily.

Image Credit: Jasmine Mohan

Jasmine summed up succinctly, “If there’s one thing I’ve learnt, it’s to not look purely at credentials, but focus on how much that person can work with us to grow our business.” 

That’s not to say that credentials don’t matter at all, though. Lucas, who formed his wooden furniture company at age 24, shared that his biggest hiring mistake was rushing to hire someone who could not perform their role

Letting go of the hire three months later, Lucas realised that the exercise was a waste of resources.

Did you know: JobStreet gives access to a large pool of 5.2 million job seekers, allowing you to target high-calibre candidates in Malaysia. Via JobStreet’s recruitment services, you also can save time and only engage with shortlisted candidates for the role.

Setting up strong company core values and processes to grow the team

Facing up to their hiring mistakes, these bosses took a step back, looking into themselves and what they’d like to see in their companies. From there, they established strong company core values that would determine their hiring decisions and overall work cultures.

It’s exactly what Sarah did to rebuild her workplace’s culture.

The team at GRVTY Media / Image Credit: GRVTY Media

Job applicants who don’t practice GRVTY Media’s core values are weeded out, and this sentiment extends to all employees both old and new, even interns.

“Other than ensuring that everyone intimately knew the core values, I had to ensure that I, too, practised them. This was to set an example to everyone, and increase transparency in any communication between myself and the teams.”

Did you know: JobStreet can serve companies in need of a high-performance job ad by allowing employers to promote branding features that uplift their Employer Value Proposition. Using JobStreet’s Branded Ad, you can state points to promote your company culture and highlight the benefits of the job role, amongst other things.

Employers can also register to get a free job ad.

Jasmine stated that, being a startup, it’s important to focus on hiring people who buy into the total vision of the company. They should also be totally vested in the company’s growth, as the impact of growth cascades down to everyone in the team.

Another element Jasmine found pivotal was that although everyone in the team had their individual responsibilities, her company’s hierarchy is kept flat.

She elaborated, “We are such a small company, everyone does everything. There is no room for ‘I’m hired to do accounts, that’s all I do’.”

The team at YesHello / Image Credit: YesHello

One crucial characteristic Carliff looks for in every team member is whether someone is a responsible person, or if they would play the blame game in situations. “There’s no 50-50,” he added.

Carliff also described that whenever there is a breakdown in any situation, the team will not fault the person, but the processes, then amend their workflow accordingly.

Image Credit: Lucas Eng

Though Lucas disclosed that he’s yet to find the right person for Balak’s sales role, he’s learnt to never rush when it comes to hiring job applicants.

“We will no longer hire people urgently even if we are in need of employees,” he said. 

Did you know: JobStreet can also provide companies with a dedicated talent consultant, providing personalised job ad writing, posting services, candidates screenings, shortlisting, and validation.

Image Credit: David Lim

David now ensures stringent background checks and evaluations are done on job candidates, especially those filling high positions in the company.

Some pieces of advice on hiring

Image Credit: Carliff Rizal

Ultimately, it’s clear that these bosses believe hiring candidates who fit into their company’s core values trump their skills. 

As Carliff put it, “Hire them for fitting your core values. Know exactly what kind of environment you want in your office, because if you want players, you need a team.”

Sarah stated to not make any compromises when it comes to a candidate’s character. 

“Don’t tell yourself, ‘Oh, it’s okay that this person is rude, they don’t mean it, and they’re so good at [insert relevant skills]’. It’s not okay, this will only lead to more problems in the future,” she explained. 

“Nobody is that talented that they are worth your peace of mind in the company.” 

Jasmine advised that founders need to have a pulse on their company as a whole, not just the view from the top.

The team at Château Dionne / Image Credit: Grouppe Dionne

Lucas shared a reminder to fellow employers that someone’s age doesn’t necessarily determine their potential in the company.

He noted that it isn’t right to assume an older candidate has more experience. More chances should be given to the younger generation to prove themselves.

“They may have better ideas and creativity to bring to the company, and from there we can grow together,” Lucas said.

The young team at Balak’s / Image Credit: Balak’s


All-in-all, SME owners and hiring managers looking for tools to easily reach ideal candidates can look to JobStreet for help.

The platform has seamless integrated sourcing that eases the search for talents, with greater candidate reach via job alerts through its app and other technologies. 

Embedded industry data to create the most effective job ads are also part of JobStreet’s offerings that may aid in a business’ hiring needs.

If you’re recruiting or know someone who’s recruiting, JobStreet offers free job ads to new customers. Register to get a free job ad here.

  • Learn more about JobStreet’s packages and offerings here.
  • Read about other Malaysian startups here.

Featured Image Credit: Carliff Rizal, founder and CEO of YesHello / Sarah Enxhi, co-founder and Managing Director of GRVTY Media / David Lim, founder and CEO of Grouppe ​​Dionne / Jasmine Mohan, founder and CEO of The Good Fat Company / Lucas Eng, founder of Balak’s

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Vulcan Post aims to be the knowledge hub of Singapore and Malaysia.

© 2021 GRVTY Media Pte. Ltd.
(UEN 201431998C.)

Vulcan Post aims to be the knowledge hub of Singapore and Malaysia.

© 2021 GRVTY Media Pte. Ltd.
(UEN 201431998C.)