4 Recruitment Strategies to Help Startups Outperform the Big Brands

It’s a reality. Most startup companies have to work harder than big-brand players to attract high-quality talent. They lack brand visibility and a big-draw reputation, and usually can’t offer as much money or the same level of benefits as the big brands. What’s more, the global shortage of tech talent make recruitment at startups even more challenging.

To surmount these challenges, startups need to think outside the box. They need to tap the best available resources and put a fine point on outreach efforts tailored to potential candidates.

Here are four recruitment strategies to help startups compete with, and even beat, the big brands.

1. Expedite your hiring process.

Big-brands’ hiring processes can stretch out several weeks. Make it easier—and faster—for candidates to say yes to your brand.

2. Make the most of your network.

One of the best sources of qualified candidates will always be your own network. See if you have a connection who can make a warm introduction.

Take advantage of resources aimed at people interested in working at startups. Look for individuals through your company’s VC firm, accelerator, startup network or job board. Online job boards are the most popular digital tool for job seekers with 60% of people using them to find and apply for new jobs. If you have a job board, make sure you promote it to reach startups job seekers.

A Consider job board, for example, makes every job and every startup in a venture capitalist’s portfolio accessible to applicants. Candidates interested in working with a startup can easily find and apply for opportunities using the job board. Conversely, you can recommend job opportunities to potential candidates based on their profiles.

3. Start conversations that get individuals interested in your brand.

Bear in mind that the first email in your outreach campaign will need to introduce your brand along with the job opportunity.

Speak to potential candidates from their perspective, describing how their unique skill set and experience will add value to your company.

4. Appeal to potential candidates on an emotional level.

While you can’t offer the same salaries or benefit packages as big-brand players, your company’s mission, values, and culture can attract candidates. Appeal to the job seekers who place higher priority on the value their work contributes and striking a greater work-life balance than on salary and company names. Appeal to the ones looking to be part of an exciting venture or new challenge.

Include the following selling propositions in your conversations:

  • Employees at startups have a greater chance to influence change and impact the company’s success than employees at large firms. They won’t get stuck or be invisible in a bureaucratic silo.
  • Startups are faster and more nimble than large companies. Employees enjoy a high degree of autonomy and a sense of ownership in the workplace, feeding their desire to feel and see the direct impact they’re making.
  • Startups are highly mission-oriented, and most comprise a very small workforce. Introduce candidates to everyone. They’ll be excited at the prospect of working together, as a company unit, toward a common goal versus being added to a team in one of multiple departments within a business unit.

Lastly, consider offering flexibility and benefits bigger brands typically don’t or won’t.

Write job descriptions to reflect benefits, like: 

  • Equity or generous employee stock ownership
  • Work from anywhere
  • Schedule flexibility 
  • Unlimited vacation 
  • A higher-level job title with greater, career-enhancing responsibility, faster
  • An opportunity to broaden skill sets by working across company functions (sales, marketing, product, development etc.)

With well-planned, well-executed outreach and recruitment that focuses on the unique selling propositions of startups and needs of potential candidates, you’ll be ready to compete with the big brands and win over potential candidates.