It’s not easy to pull talent away from big established companies. It’s easy to lose the battles of money and health benefits, but you can lose those battles and still win the war. Here’s how: Appeal to a sense of excitement, adventure, their desire to be a part of something great and the possibility of big-time bucks in the future. Saying you were employee #12 of a successful company is really cool. Be honest, but frame the potentials and play to the positive aspects of being a startup.
Wearing multiple hats is something that excites people. Having direct contact with the client is another opportunity many people desire. Talented people aren’t trying to avoid work; they’re trying to funnel their talents into something that isn’t boring. They want to be challenged and feel the excitement of future opportunities. Tap into those instincts.
In every way possible, be open and honest. Map out your plan to the prospective employee. Show them how you will need them to succeed, and be honest about the challenges. Startups are small with office cultures that can grow cliquey if knowledge isn’t shared broadly. Avoid this by being as open with everything as you can. Think about running your operation with an open book, so nothing is opaque.
Everyone at your startup should know that they need to evangelize its awesomeness. Obviously you can’t force people to do this, but you can sit everyone down and explain that it’s going to be a challenge to recruit new talent and that you need their help. Employees at startups should get that it’s an all-hands-on-deck operation for everything, including acquiring talent. It doesn’t hurt to remind them though.
Talented people are willing to take risks with their careers, and there is nothing more risky than never taking a risk. The best thing you can do to attract these people to your startup is to work from the sense of excitement and intelligent risk-taking framed with a commitment to transparency. This is what people are looking for.
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