How to attract top talent to your start-up

How to, talent

Ben WackettBen Wackett, May 4, 2017

This article was originally posted on the Tech City UK website.

In our latest guest blog post from Digital Risks, we explore the challenge of attracting top talent to your startup.

When your start-up team consists of just a couple of people, a new hire can revolutionise your productivity. With an immediate injection of manpower, skills and enthusiasm, you can do everything more quickly and efficiently than before. And that means faster growth for your start-up.

But just as a great hire can transform your business for the better, a bad one can do the opposite. The wrong person can waste your time, drain your energy and set your business back. Which is why knowing how to attract and identify the best people is essential.

Unfortunately, top people aren’t that easy to come by, with skills shortages and intense competition ensuring they’re closely guarded by current employers, and being wooed by plenty of others. Here’s our advice on how to win in the war for start-up talent:

  1. Invest time in getting it right: First, a reality check – recruitment can be time-consuming. From sifting through CVs, to arranging interviews, running any additional tests and on boarding new recruits. But the more you rush it, the less likely you are to find the right person. So be prepared to put the hours in to get it right.
  2. Be clear on your values: Before you start writing job descriptions, spend some time thinking about the values and beliefs shared by your people and your brand. For example, what do you want to achieve, what do you stand for and how do you like to work? This will make it easier to communicate what you’re about and attract like-minded people.  
  3. Well written job adverts: Don’t scrimp on job descriptions and adverts, as this is your opportunity to inspire and connect with the people who share your values and vision. And rather than going into loads of detail about the role and responsibilities, it’s more important to communicate your culture and what you’re trying to do. You need to attract people who really believe in what you’re building.
  4. Always have your hiring radar switched on: Don’t limit yourself to just traditional ways of hiring, and always be open to scouting new talent, even if you’re not proactively recruiting. You can meet potential employees anywhere, so maximise your online and offline networks as much as you can. Here at Digital Risks, we found most of our team through networking, including one of our co-founders at a tennis tournament!
  5. Pay well: The best people come at a price, so make sure you’re offering at least as much as the competition. If you’re short of budget, you could consider offering an equity stake in the business to sweeten the deal and encourage loyalty.
  6. Don’t be limited by geography: What if your ideal new developer is based in Berlin, or New York? Have you considered hiring them as a remote employee? Nowadays, lots of businesses are doing it, and it immediately widens your talent pool. Video conferencing and messaging apps mean the world is smaller than ever.  
  7. Make it practical: A candidate might sound good on paper, or answer all your interview questions perfectly, but you still can’t really know how they work unless you see them in action. So, try to make your selection process as practical as possible, with behavioural interview questions and practical tasks. Another option is to hire potential recruits on a contract basis first, to test them out before committing.  
  8. Get all the paperwork sorted: When you take on staff, you also take on various legal responsibilities, which you’ll need to get sorted asap. For example, you need to register as an employer with HMRC, have employment contracts drawn up, and purchase employer’s liability insurance, which is a legal requirement. You can read more about the necessary admin in our blog on growing your team. It will make sure you’re protected in case anything goes wrong.

Your people make your business what it is, so getting recruitment right should be one of your top priorities. It can undoubtedly be tricky at first, particularly if you don’t have any hiring experience. But invest the time and thought into it now, and your business will thank you in the long run.

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