It’s hard enough to attract quality talent as a startup. But when you’re strapped for cash, finding qualified candidates who fit your desired company culture and long-term goals is even harder.
That doesn’t mean top talent is out of reach, though. Let’s look at 4 things you can do to attract and win over your ideal candidates.
Build Strong Relationships
No matter how well-funded you are, you don’t find high-quality talent by operating in a vacuum. You need strong relationships (i.e. a network).
Building relationships is a fairly involved process, though - you have to attend industry events, network online, meet up for lunch, and make a concerted effort to stay connected with people. In essence, you have to go out of your way to build and maintain professional relationships.
And after you’ve built a solid foundation, you need to expand your network outward. This might involve asking your connections to introduce you to specific people they know or requesting a general referral.
Regardless of how you choose to go about it, this process can help you attract quality talent by widening your option pool. And because you know the people in your network better than you’ll know an applicant who filtered through your applicant tracking system (ATS), you also have a greater chance of finding a well-qualified candidate for your startup.
Write Detailed Job Postings
When you’re in the startup phase, your candidates must match an ultra-specific set of criteria. Besides having the right experience and skill set, they need to mesh well with your founding team, fit your company culture, share your vision for the company, and have the stamina to keep up with the fast-paced environment of the startup world.
Unfortunately, these types of candidates don’t just fall out of the sky and land in your co-working space. To find someone this well-matched, you have to create a clear, detailed job description that they can see themselves in. That includes factors like:
- What your startup is, how long you’ve been in business, and that your bootstrapped (better to get the money question out of the way early on)
- A clear description of your culture (without going overboard on the emotional language)
- Your vision for your company over the next few years, and for the role
- A job title that your candidates can understand (avoid words like “ninja,” “hero,” or “champion,” as they’re less concrete and clear)
- Hard and soft skills required to excel in the position
- Responsibilities attached to the position
- Perks of working for your startup (i.e. flexibility, equity, and special benefits you can offer)
Offer the Right Compensation
Without the funding to pay their employees a competitive salary, many startups choose to offer equity to make up the difference. And in many cases, it’s a solid strategy. Not only does it draw in candidates who are more likely to be in it for the long-haul, but it also offers long-term financial value.
However, equity isn’t the only compensation alternative available to bootstrapped startups. You can also offer attractive perks and benefits to attract top talent to your startup, like:
- Flexible work schedules and remote working opportunities
- Professional development opportunities (like conferences, training, and courses)
- Paid time off (i.e. vacation, holidays, sick days, maternity/paternity leave, etc.)
- Unique perks like free books
Outsource in the Beginning
While there is a lot to be said for hiring full-time employees, it isn’t necessarily the best option for every startup. In fact, when you’re bootstrapped, hiring full-time can drastically limit your ability to build a strong team of experts.
Luckily, there’s another avenue available to startups: outsourcing. You can hand off your marketing to an agency or freelancer. You can partner with a team of designers and developers to build the frontend and backend of your platforms and apps. You can even pass your sales and customer support activities to another business.
As a result, you can spend less time hunting for new hires and put more money toward the business activities that demand ongoing financial support.
Attracting quality talent is definitely harder when your funding is limited. But that doesn’t mean you’re out of luck. By building a strong network, creating solid compensation and perk packages, writing detailed job postings, and outsourcing critical tasks - you can find some diamonds in the rough startup world.