There is no denying that there are a number of reasons to work for a tech startup. Tech startups provide the opportunity to work in an exciting, ever-changing, and dynamic environment that you won’t find in other industries. Nonetheless, 90% of tech startups have trouble finding the right talent. A big reason for this is the competition. Major companies like Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and Apple are constantly hiring new tech talent and offering hefty paychecks and major perks. They offer the stability of an established company, as well as the ego-boost of being able to say, “I work at Microsoft.”
This doesn’t mean that a tech startup’s only hope is to hire Google’s leftovers. There are several ways tech startups can compete with big companies and find the right people. Here are a few best practices for recruiting tech talent.
There’s no point in hiding the fact that working for a tech startup is hard work. There are long hours and new project deadlines always approaching. While you don’t want to scare away any potential candidates, you don’t want to attract someone who may not be cut out for the startup world. Beyond recruiting talent, you want to keep them around. On average, startups fire 25% of their employees within their first year of work, and this often is because employees were not prepared for the challenges of working for a startup. In interviews with candidates, disclose the anticipated work hours, the fast-paced environment, and the ever-evolving projects.
Beyond explaining the challenges of working for a startup, share in your job posting and in interviews the unique benefits. This is your opportunity to share your passion and to speak to fellow individuals who are passionate about what they do. Emphasize your company’s culture, how you work as a team, and how you like to have fun after a hard day’s work.
In your job posting, explain what makes your startup unique, what you’re trying to accomplish, and how you expect to succeed and grow in the next five years. People want to know that you have a plan for the future — and that they’ll have a job a year from now. While you can’t guarantee that your startup will flourish, you can clearly define your goals and why the market needs your product or service. Highlight the benefits of working for a tech startup that employees won’t find at larger companies, such as extensive growth opportunities and the ability to put your creative juices to good use working on innovative projects.
While experience is ideal, don’t judge candidates solely by their resume. Ask about their tech innovations and hobbies outside of work, such as developing an app or designing a website. Look at projects on which they’ve previously worked and ask for their portfolio, depending on the position.
Many tech startups can’t compete with the paychecks giant tech companies can offer. While you may not be able to offer a cafeteria, bicycles, and a yoga room, consider providing breakfast on Mondays, the occasional pizza lunch, or summer Fridays. Small incentives like these cost less than a bump in salary and provide an added perk you can tie into your company culture and team morale.
If you are searching for talent with a very specific skillset or are having difficulty finding the right person in your local area, expand your search and consider national or international candidates. Offering a flexible schedule and a remote position can help you attract more desirable prospects. While it can be difficult managing international or remote employees, especially if they are in a different time zone or working different hours, implement a company-wide chat system or similar communication method that makes it easy for everyone to collaborate and stay in touch.
One of the best ways to find great talent is to turn to the great talent you already have. Offer incentives to employees who refer candidates, and encourage your employees to be on the lookout for individuals who fit your startup’s culture.
A great place to find young creatives who are ready to work hard in technology for less than a six-figure paycheck is universities. Attend career fairs at local universities and colleges, and meet with schools’ career centers to discuss opportunities for recruiting new graduates or hiring interns. Don’t wait until the end of the school year, as that is when other companies will also be recruiting. Start looking for prospective employees at the beginning of spring semester.
Get creative in your hunt for the right candidate. Search beyond LinkedIn and try alternative networking methods, such as searching on sites like Meetup. Attend a tech or networking group and search for potential candidates.
Once you’ve filled the position, continue to network and look for talent. You never know when you may need to fill a position or add additional staff as your startup grows.
Tech startups face many challenges when hiring staff. However, by tweaking your job posting, searching for candidates beyond job boards, and offering unique experiences or perks, you can compete with the tech giants and recruit talented individuals who share your vision.