StartupCollective

11 Lesser-Known Tips for Attracting Startup Talent

Business people waiting for job interview

Question: Finding talent is an ongoing challenge for startups and small business alike. What is your BEST, lesser-known tip for recruiting incredible candidates (for any position, not just tech)?

Reach Out to 5 Superconnectors

"It's tempting to think that you might bump into your unicorn at a MeetUp or sponsored happy hour. The truth of the matter is that 90% of those attendees are recruiting there, too, and the other 10% are trying to sell you services. Start with your network, instead. Reach out to the top 5 superconnectors and ask for referrals. Most importantly, remember to thank them and respect their candidates. "


Check Out Co-Working Spaces

"Co-working spaces are places where entrepreneurs and other startup talent hang out. These spaces are collaborative working environments, so they are always willing to help. Some of them have online job boards that you can post jobs on. If not, then they know people looking for work. Local business organizations are good resources from which to find talent and know the local scene."


Use Email Signature Advertising

"Each member of your team probably sends dozens to hundreds of emails each week to people outside your company. Encourage all of them to update their email signature to include a notice that says "We're Hiring" with a link to your jobs. Your team will be communicating open positions, and it's those connections -- one to two degrees away -- that you want. It's an easy way to tap your networks."


Be Visible in Your Community

"Contribute to your local startup community, and the talent will often present itself. Speak at events, be visible and mentor. You won’t have to pitch the fact that you’re hiring -- when people are looking, they’ll recognize your brand and come to you."


Hire People Who Will Take Salary Reductions

"Prior to your series A round, only hire people who are willing to take a salary reduction in exchange for stock options. Be very upfront about this from the earliest of interactions with candidates. This is going to be hard. You are going to lose some good people. Trust me, as painful as it may feel, it's for the best. "


Offer Candidates a Challenge

"Offer the high-powered candidate a challenge. Tell them your specific needs, and explain that you want to utilize their talents to bring your business to the next level. High-quality talent can get a great salary anywhere, but if you offer them a challenge, you're more likely to land them."


Watch Them in Their Position

"When hiring, after the first round of interviews, we have the potential employee actually do their job without training. We do this for two reasons: We want to see what kind of base knowledge they have, and we want to learn more about how they function with the other employees. Seeing how they will work within the company is an essential aspect to hiring."


Look Everywhere

"Our first hires did not come from recruiters, job boards or employment postings -- they came from networking at conferences, meeting at random places such as bars and airports and friends' referral networks. When we liked a person as an individual, we wanted to join forces and bring them on as our team members -- as long as their skills matched too, of course. "


Hire Who You Need, Not Who Applies

"I've almost never used someone who applies out of the blue for a position. I keep an ongoing list of folks that I'd like to bring on board for specific positions. I spend time cultivating relationships with those people so that when I'm ready to hire, I already know who I can go to who will say yes. "


Be Yourself

"Working for a startup means working closely together with a small group. As such, it's important for a candidate to be eager to not only work long hours on the business, but with you as a person."


Never Stop Recruiting

"My best tip is to always be recruiting. You never know if down the road or when the time is right, someone may want to leave their existing job and join your team. Everyone loves to be courted. If you already know a great sales person, I would take him out to lunch and see if he wants to work for you. That is what opportunity looks like. "


The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.