Recruiting quality talent for any company is tough — but for a startup, it can seem virtually impossible. Your money is tight, your reputation is non-existent, and your company culture is still in development. And to top it off, you can’t risk hiring any duds: you really need each player to pull their weight and help the company accomplish its goals.
Don’t fret, though: there are ways around these challenges. You just have to be innovative. Since you’re in the startup world, that shouldn’t be a problem for you!
Here are four common recruiting difficulties startups face — and how to fix them: (Click here to tweet this list.)
1. You can’t offer huge salaries or benefits
If you don’t have a lot of money for huge salaries or rockstar benefits packages, you’re going to have to offer perks and make your company a destination, a place people want to work for over other companies.
Follow this Geekwire advice: “The true art of recruiting is combining knowledge of the company’s unique culture [to the candidate’s personal goals] so that both parties succeed and prosper together.”
First, focus on making your company a place that people will be happy to work in the long term. Emphasizing a collaborative work environment and an open-minded culture may set you apart from bigger companies. Make it clear you’re willing to discuss perks like stock options and flexible vacation time.
Then try to offer some sort of benefits package, even if it’s not the most comprehensive one around. If you don’t want to handle the intricacies yourself, use a Professional Employer Organization (PEO) like TriNet to sponsor and administer benefits and a company like Zenefits to handle the details.
2. You don’t have the budget for multiple job boards or a dedicated recruiter
You may not have a recruiting budget, but you have something even better: your network. And networking is the most important way to successfully recruit startup talent.
This is one great reason it’s worth building a strong social media and email presence for your company — you can use those channels for recruiting. If people are already connected to the company, they probably respect what you do and might be interested in working with you.
As a small company, you have the added advantage of being able to hire quickly. While more established companies may take months to finalize an offer, you’ll know pretty quickly whether someone is right for you and be able to make decisions without a lot of red tape. Use this to your benefit, and present an offer within several weeks of meeting a candidate — job seekers always appreciate that.
And don’t forget: your team has a network, too!
As recruiter Hong Quan says, “It’s everyone’s job to grow the company.” Let your team know who you’re looking for, and maybe even offer small bonuses (or just lots of thank yous!) for successful hires.
The most important thing? Don’t wait until you desperately need to find someone to fill a position — that’s too late. Always be networking, and always be recruiting.
3. You don’t have a lot of time to recruit new employees
Recruiting can be time-consuming, especially when you’re looking to bring in top talent. It takes time to look for candidates, screen them, and tend to the dozens of emails you’ll likely receive when you post an open position.
That’s why we created an online recruiting platform — to save recruiters (and other people connectors like alumni leaders) time and money. Like many of our clients, we use our own event platform to recruit for our company because it allows us to chat one-on-one with candidates right from our own office. It has that personal touch, but without driving to meetings or setting up lots of candidate calls.
This lets our whole team jump into an online event and chat with dozens of candidates in one or two hours. We all see average ratings for each candidate, and we can make decisions on who to bring in for an interview based on unbiased data. It’s also nice to have our entire team weigh in on the hiring process, so everyone has a stake in the new employee.
4. You’re not a big-name tech company
How can you compete with the Googles and Facebooks of the world? By appealing to the hopes and desires of the candidate.
As Paypal co-founder, Peter Thiel, says: a “talented person will join your startup because your startup is working on an interesting and important problem.”
By showing the candidate how she’ll be directly involved in solving a problem, and changing the world, you’ll be able to “engage in conversation that transcends job requisitions, company culture, and compensation.”
You might also highlight that the candidate will have more input and reach at a growing company, serving as a big fish in a little pond rather than the other way around. Remember, you’re not just selling a job — “You are selling a bold vision and an exciting experience.”
What other difficulties have you faced while recruiting for your startup? How have you solved them?