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How to Recruit Talent for a Startup

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Hiring the best talent, even for the most established organizations, is a challenging process. But with limited cash flow and practically no reputation to speak of, startups have the short end of the recruitment stick. No matter how groundbreaking your product or business model is, you’ll need talented employees to transform your vision into reality. In these early stages, bringing in a bad hire can send your business off the rails. But while most founders are ingenious techies, they rarely know how to recruit the right talent for a startup. 

When you’re recruiting for a startup, you need to attract employees who believe in your vision. They should also be willing to take the risk of trying to make your vision a reality. To compete with the big players in your industry, you should tailor your pitch to sell each job opportunity to each candidate. Since your stock will grow in value, you can use it to cover your lack of competitive salaries. As you look to recruit top talent for your startup, try to tap into innovative talent sources. 

Tailor Your Pitch

If you’re trying to attract the best talent in your niche as a startup, you’ll have to accept that your candidates may sometimes have more bargaining power. Therefore, you’ll have to understand what motivates your prospective hire and then tailor how you sell the job opportunity. Whether you’re reaching out to an old expert contact or crafting job posts, you need to communicate the growth potential that your company offers. Also, some of the best recruits are only looking to take up jobs that align with their future endeavors.

On top of listening to what you have to say, candidates will also want to see what you currently have on the ground. As such, everything from your workspaces and work culture, to your current crop of employees should communicate a convincing story. 

Don’t Skimp on Remuneration

To recruit the top talent for your startup, you’ll have to offer attractive remuneration packages. There’s no way around this one. Since your employees are investing their time and energy into your company, they expect a competitive return.  Because you’re recruiting from the same talent pool as established tech giants, you’ll have to come up with unique ways to compensate employees if you can’t offer the same rate of pay, such as equity in the shares, unlimited vacation, or a monthly education stipend. 

An excellent starting point is to research the median salary for each job. If you can’t match this figure, then you’ll have to make your pitch and entrepreneurial vision much more convincing. If you’re bootstrapping, future management opportunities, stock options, and flexible work arrangements are all excellent extra incentives. If the startup is eventually acquired or goes through an IPO, all pioneering employees stand a chance to cash in big. 

Seek Alternative Talent Sources

A major challenge of finding talent for startups is how best to recruit candidates interested in embracing the risk of working for an emerging company. That’s why it’s often a great idea to seek alternative talent sources that promote the startup mentality, where your job posts are aimed at interested candidates who are looking to work in a business-like yours, rather than wasted on ones looking for stability. Another excellent way to hit the ground running is to work with freelancers from hiring someone to create a logo for the business to a virtual assistant. If you don’t yet have adequate funding to pay full-time employees and giving away equity is not an option, hiring per project could be the best solution. Freelancing platforms do an excellent job at matching talent with available job offers. What’s important is that everyone onboard understands your vision.


While startups are fueled mainly by the ingenuity of their founders, talented employees are critical to the achievement of any organizational vision. Though they may lack the clout and financial muscle to attract top talent, startups can still recruit the best minds in their niches be it a business run from remote locations or in person. As long as you tailor your pitch, offer a good return on your recruits’ time, and look for talent in the right places, you can find the best people to round out your team.

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