The Top 7 Tips on Recruiting for Startups

A guide for agencies who want to work with startups and make hires easier

Recruiting for startups can be more challenging than your average hire. That’s because startups are known for their innovative and dynamic work environments, where employees are expected to wear many hats and adapt quickly to change. 

As a result, you need to source talent with diverse skill sets, the ability to thrive in fast-paced environments, and a willingness to work with limited resources. In this article, we will provide you with the top 10 tips for hiring for startups that will help you recruit top talent, build successful teams and keep your clients happy.

Understand the startup ecosystem

Recruiting for startups effectively requires an understanding of the unique challenges and opportunities within the startup ecosystem. Startups operate in a high-risk, high-reward environment where speed, agility, and innovation are key. You should familiarise yourself with the industry, the market trends, and the competition to stay ahead of the curve.

This can be achieved through attending startup events such as conferences, networking events, pitch competitions, and hackathons (if you’re looking for developers). These events tend to bring together founders, investors, and other key players in the startup world, and offer valuable opportunities to learn, network, and stay informed.

There are also a number of news outlets that you can follow. These specialise in covering the startup ecosystem. Some of the top ones are TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and StartupNation. Following these can help you stay up to date on the latest trends, funding rounds, and new product launches in the startup world.

Social media is another great tool for staying in the loop. Follow startup founders, investors, and other key players in the industry that can provide valuable insights and updates on the latest developments. Startup-focused groups and communities can also provide valuable opportunities to connect with other professionals in the industry, ask questions, and stay informed.

Source talent through multiple channels

Startups often don’t have the budget for expensive recruitment campaigns. Therefore, you should utilise multiple channels to source talent. You can use the usual channels such as job boards, personal referrals, and industry events to find potential candidates.

Another rapidly increasing source of candidates in 2023 is social media. Leveraging these platforms isn’t new but it’s definitely being perfected this year as recruiters and employers attempt to reap the easy wins. 

Due to the ubiquity of social media, hiring through it vastly increases job visibility. According to research from StandOutCV, 79% of job applicants use social media in their job search. And 73% of millennials found their last job directly through a social media platform.

Additionally, since there aren’t any subscriptions, the only costs involved are time-related. So social hiring is considerably cheaper than other methods. It can also help you grow your audience and open to door to more engagement. As interested individuals seek out more information regarding the job opportunity, they will naturally engage more with your page.

It’s also important to mention that broadening your scope in terms of where you source from results in an increase in the diversity of your hires. And that’s something that will benefit your startup clients, as there’s a direct correlation between diversity and performance.

For example, research from McKinsey found that those in the top quartile for ethnic and racial diversity in management were 35% more likely to have financial returns above their industry mean.

Highlight your client’s company culture and brand

Cultural fit is crucial when recruiting for startups. Therefore it’s important to assess whether the candidate shares the same values, mission, and vision as the company. Startups often have a unique culture that sets them apart from other organisations. So you need to showcase it to attract the right talent.

Use your client’s social media, website, and job descriptions to highlight their company culture, values, and mission. Candidates who resonate with the culture are more likely to apply for the role. And those that don’t identify with the culture will naturally be deterred from proceeding with the process.

Prioritise soft skills

Hard skills are important, but soft skills are just as crucial for startups. Look for candidates who possess excellent communication skills, problem-solving skills, adaptability, and teamwork skills. These skills are essential for startups as they work in a collaborative environment where every employee’s contribution matters.

The value startups place on soft skills can be shown in the more agile and technology-centric way they work. With that rapid pace of change in technology and automation, the hard skills that are required to use them can become outdated very quickly. But the most relevant soft skills remain consistent.

A LinkedIn survey from September last year showed that 61% of professionals give equal value to hard and soft skills. And a separate LinkedIn report shows that 89% agree when a hire doesn’t work out, it’s usually down to a lack of soft skills.

A recent report from Manpower Group shows that even in the digital age, it’s the human strengths that stand out. When asked about employers about the skillsets they value most, the number one answer (29%) was reliability and self-discipline. Overall, soft skills made up five of the top six responses. 

Focus on potential

Startups need employees who have a mix of experience and potential. Look for candidates who have relevant work experience but also have the potential to learn and grow with the company. Startup teams are constantly evolving, and you need to find candidates who can keep up with the pace of change.

Therefore the ideal candidates will be adaptable, proactive, and willing to take risks. Look for candidates who have a track record of taking on new challenges and who can thrive in a fast-paced work environment.

For example, when sourcing a developer from GitHub, you can see if they’ve collaborated on or contributed to open-source projects. Developers who have a demonstrable history of doing this are more likely to be passionate about coding, proactive about getting involved with new challenges, and willing to work with others.

Recruiting for startups requires a different approach than traditional hiring. Consider factors such as cultural fit, passion for the industry, and a willingness to learn.

Leverage technology and automation

Startups often have smaller hiring budgets than established companies, which means you need to be creative when it comes to finding and hiring talent. Technology and automation can help you streamline your recruitment process and keep costs down. 

Applicant tracking systems such as Bullhorn are a logical place to start and can sreamline your processes and consolidate all your work into one platform. Chatbots can also provide an access point for candidates while reducing the work on your end. Plus, there is a wealth of other tools to automate tasks such as screening, scheduling, and follow-up. These will all save you time and resources while ensuring a smooth and efficient recruitment process.

To find out more about ATSs, click here. We’ve also got a pretty comprehensive guide on the most suitable one for your business size here. You can also learn more about ATS integrations and how they can turbocharge your applicant tracking system, here.

Also, to see what our CEO Dina Bay has got to say about optimising and balancing AI and automation with the work of humans, check out this article on LinkedIn.

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Leverage your network, build relationships and win contracts

Networking is key to building relationships with startups. Attend industry events, job fairs, and meetups to connect with potential candidates and build your professional network.

Your network can be a powerful tool when it comes to recruiting for startups. Reach out to your existing contacts in the industry and ask for referrals. Chances are, they know someone who would be a good fit for the startup you’re recruiting for. You can also leverage your network to find candidates who may not be actively looking for a job but would be interested

Your employer brand is how potential candidates perceive your company. Highlight the unique aspects of your startup and create a compelling narrative to attract top talent.

Social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook et al are great tools for building relationships with startups. Share job postings and company updates to increase your visibility and attract top talent.

The bottom line

This is by no means a complete guide to recruiting for startups but it is a solid foundation in terms of best practice. If you utilise all of these strategies, you will not only build a reliable network of startup clients, but you’ll also have a robust funnel for sourcing and attracting the top startup talent, and matching it to the most suitable roles.

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