As a Partner at Scede.io i work closely with a number of high growth technology startups across Europe. From my experience here are what I see as the 6 key factors in attracting early stage talents:
I have found as an early stage startup, which may have had some recent funding, you aren’t competing with Google, Facebook or any other tech giant for talent. The vision is to hire the best, but this must be done on affordability and potential. I have found recently a number of candidates within these firms want to work within a more humanised environment with less bureaucracy and complexity, so there are always people open to a move.
As a startup business when a candidate has been assessed you need to clearly convey your unique value proposition. You need to convince any potential employee that your growth trajectory, your mission and values are better than other opportunity in the market. Where i have seen this work so well just recently is at FundApps & Farmdrop.
We executed hiring plans quickly & efficiently and were able to attract both actively & passively some great talent. This was achieved by myself understanding the mission and growth of the business, speaking passionately about it to potential candidates and them receiving the same message when at interview stage with the product & engineering teams and latterly with the impressive CTO’s/CEO’s of both businesses. We were all aligned on mission & values.
This isn’t about Friday beers, foosball tables or daily snacks on offer. These are all added bonuses but what a candidate looks for is do you have top talent in the business already. Everyone wants to work with talented co-workers. This can be achieved by having a great “about us” section on your career site. Ask your engineers to write an engineering blog, be active and have pages on Stackoverflow & AngelList with your employees tagged into the page. Make it easy for potential employees to research you and your existing team.
Compensation/equity does play a key part. If you do the above steps correctly then the last stage can be rather straightforward. Candidates can be flexible and in some cases you can get them on a lower salary if they see uplift in stages over 3, 6, 9 months.
#5 Hiring Focus
I have found many startups do not spend significant effort in attracting top talent. If you want to hire the best you need to put in the time to find and convince those candidates to join you. This burden usually rests on a CEO/CTO alongside their own job. I suggest a continual presence at development or design meetups and participate in university entrepreneurial events, among other outreach methods. My recommendation would be to partner with an excellent recruiter to help you on that.
It’s an old saying and does fill me with dread but “Always Be Closing”. What I mean by this is, while you don’t want to be hasty with your decision, once you’ve chosen a candidate, go for it. Asking someone to take a leap of faith in you and your company, speed sends a powerful signal on decisiveness, it’s flattering and gets you a quick yes or no.
James Peters is a Partner at Scede.io. They scale tech startups as an embedded/outsourced business partner in London & Stockholm currently. James is/has been currently working with the founders of FundApps, Farmdrop, Elliptic & Lost My Name.
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