4 Tactics to Steal From Startups That Find the Best Talent

Only your people can build your brand. Be open to remote workers and new grads who want to grow with you.
Guest Writer

All startups are in a precarious situation when it comes to hiring top talent. Often, they have neither the reputation nor the capital to attract experienced and respected professionals. Yet for startups, hiring good people is critical.

Why? There’s little room for flubs when it comes to personnel. Your employees represent your business. Startups are fragile and need the very best talent to help lift them off the ground. Astonishingly, 75 percent of all startups fail -- 25 percent of them within the first year. A wrong hire in the early stages could be a startup’s death knell.

How is it possible for your startup to get the very best and brightest without a gleaming office building on Fifth Avenue or six-figure salaries to flaunt? 

1. Build an exciting brand.

Great brands seek to show consumers and employees that they're part of something bigger. Companies such as Apple underline the importance of their people and the power of their loyal consumers. An exciting brand is not egocentric. The brand doesn't inflate itself. Instead, it presents ideas that are larger than its leaders or even the company as a whole. 

2. Go remote.

Remote work has a myriad of benefits for employer and employee alike. A remote structure decreases expenses related to office space, and it been shown to boost productivity. In fact, remote employees report higher job satisfaction despite typically working longer hours than their counterparts in more static settings. Best of all for startups, a great number of highly skilled workers are willing to take a substantial pay cut in exchange for the flexibility that remote work offers.

When your brand-new company isn't confined to a single location, it suddenly seems less impossible to hire the absolute best talent. Companies such as Uber, Google, Lyft and Microsoft have found success through WOO.io, an innovative solution that uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to help match employers with potential employees. The software bases its connections on the companies' talent demands and expectations.  

Related: 10 Ways to Successfully Manage Virtual Teams

Startups implementing such a setup emphasize their potential, their unique culture and the collective strength of their ideas. They highlight how they do things differently -- perhaps even better -- than traditional organizations, and they invite qualified professionals to be a part of it. Most important, they empower their employees by offering fully remote work options and investing in promising new talent.

3. Never underestimate fresh college grads.

College graduates are hungry for experience. Ideally, they’re looking to test their knowledge and skills to the limit. It can be scary to hire people who don't have any real-world experience, but catching talented people early in their careers can be the secret to building a business that lasts. It’s challenging to hire recent grads who will fit. But if you devote the time to vet them thoroughly, you’ll save money and possibly gain lifelong employees who grow with your company.

Related: When to Hire Raw Talent vs. Job Experience

4. Hire based on culture, not credentials.

Professionals with long resumes come at a high price. And that exceedingly qualified applicant who has worked at large corporations might flounder with a small team. Even if you can nab top-tier talent at a discount, you run the very real risk of losing those "gets" if they find the work unsuitable for their skill sets or too demanding for the salary. Unfortunately, turnover is just too costly for startups.

That's in part because most startups can’t afford to hire employees through conventional channels. Especially in their beginning stages, these businesses aim to grow rapidly. They need committed individuals who understand the company’s goals and don’t mind going the extra mile. In this environment, it’s more important for an employee to embrace his or her role (and far less important where he or she worked previously). Your startup initially might include only a few individuals. It's absolutely critical for your first few hires to meld seamlessly into the culture you're co-creating together. Newcomers must be excited about joining a team that aligns with their values and dedicated to seeing that team flourish.

Related: 6 Companies Reveal How Their Unique Cultures Make Them a Success

If you’re having trouble making hiring decisions, review these four tactics as you continually reach out to potential employees. Don’t rule out industry events, associations and networking venues as backdrops to run into job candidates. You'll need to find a balance between patience and hesitancy: You don't want to miss a golden opportunity to snag a star for your startup.

Related: How Restaurant CEO Cameron Mitchell Finds and Keeps Talent

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