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Startup Hiring Tips: How to Attract Great Candidates?

Written by MicroStartups

The biggest challenge most startups struggle with is hiring the right people. There’s an array resources out there to help. You can advertise your business all over the world via your social media channels. You could use employee referrals to get local candiates. Or you could use recruitment agencies in Ghana if your startup is based in Africa.

But whichever you choose, you often find yourself wondering how your small startup can compete with large corporations in the war for talent? There is a way! Here are 10 tips for attracting great candidates to your startup.

The importance of hiring the right people for your startup

If you’re reading this article, you’re probably a startup struggling to attract great candidates. Don’t worry, you are not alone. According to Ben Yoskovitz, a serial entrepreneur, co-founder of Standout Jobs and Year One Labs and an active mentor to numerous startups and startup accelerators:

“The #1 challenge that most startup founders speak about is recruiting people. It’s not raising money, closing deals, doing sales, finding partners. It’s hiring people.”


Creating a great team is crucial if you want your startup to succeed. Actually, not having the right team is the third major reason why most startups fail, according to CB insights research.

However, hiring the right people is hard. These days, when unemployment rate is lower than ever, even large businesses struggle to attract top talent. So how can a small startup compete in this war for talent? How can you cut through the noise made by big famous brands like Google, Facebook, Amazon, etc.?

How to attract top talent to your startup?

There is a way. And don’t worry – it doesn’t necessarily include offering large paychecks, beautiful office and numerous cool benefits and perks that you can’t afford. You just need to learn how to promote your company as a desirable employer in a real, authentic way.

In this article, I will show how to do exactly that. You will learn the basis of what is called recruitment marketing. Recruitment marketing is the use of marketing methods to sell your jobs by presenting your company as a great place to work. Working at a startup has many benefits and if you know how to present them in a compelling way, you can easily attract many great candidates.

I will share with you some of the latest recruitment marketing trends used by big brands. If you’re worried that you don’t have the time or resources to apply these strategies, rest assured. We tried all of them in real life – hiring for our own startup TalentLyft. And they really work! We managed to attract and hire some really great people. You can do it too! 🙂

10 pro startup recruiting tips to attract great candidates

Here are 10 easy to implement tips that will help you attract great candidates and create your startup dream team:

Tip #1: Offer stock options

You probably can’t offer your potential candidates large salaries like many established, large companies. However, you can offer them shares in your company. This is a great opportunity which might pay off big time in the future. You’d be surprised at how many people are willing to accept a lower salary at the moment if it entails the potential for huge future rewards.

Tip #2: Offer flexible work options

Offering flexible working options is something definitely worth thinking about. According to the latest surveys, employees place the highest value on benefits that are relatively low-cost to employers, such as flexible working hours, more paid vacation time, and work-from-home options. Let your potential candidates know they can have a healthy work-life balance as your employees.

Tip #3: Showcase your company culture

Showcase your great company culture to attract candidates. According to a LinkedIn’s research, company culture is among the top reasons for changing jobs. There are many ways you can promote your company culture to attract new talent. You can share photos showing off everyday life at your office, organize open days at your office, create a video office tour, present your employees on social media, etc.

There are also a number of agencies that offer remote and on-site tech specialists as web developers. For example, Soshace does all the testing and interviewing of candidates, so all you have to do is to ask them for a pre-vetted talent that would fit your needs and requirements.

Tip #4: Write job ads that stand out

If you want to attract top talent, you need to make your job ads stand out. Luckily, this is not that hard. Most companies still post boring, text only job ads. If you want to differentiate form other employers, add a photo or even a video to your job ad. Check out these job ads examples for an inspiration!

Tip #5: Partner with universities

Contact your local universities and ask them about opportunities to connect with their students. You can offer to organize an interesting workshop or a lecture for their students. Many universities have career fairs where you can present your company. Another way is to offer internships for students. Your local universities and colleges are generally happy to help companies promote these kind of opportunities among their students!

Tip #6: Utilize employee referrals

Turn your existing employees into a lean mean recruiting machine! Your current employees are your best employer brand ambassadors. They are the ones who live your company culture every day and know exactly what type of people you are looking for. Set up a structured employee referral program to tap into your employees’ social networks and find great potential candidates for your startup!

Tip #7: Harness the power of social media

The best candidates are already employed so you wont find them browsing job boards or career sites. However, you will find them on social networks. Actually, social networks may be the only way to reach these candidates! Learn how to use social media to present your company as a desirable employer. Trust me, it’s worth it. According to Aberdeen Group’s research, 73% of millennials found their last position through a social media site!

Tip #8: Create an inviting career site

Once your potential candidates find out about your open job positions, they will surely Google you. According to The Talent Board research, your career site is the #1 place candidates go to research your company. Make sure you have an inviting career site waiting for them! Check out our tips for creating the perfect career site as well as best career site examples.

Tip #9: Use niche job boards

Make sure to post your open job positions on the niche job boards. There are many job boards specialized in startup hiring. Here are the most popular ones:

  • Angel List – The world’s largest network of startup talent. There are over 2,000,000 candidates are actively job seeking on their job board.
  • Unicorn Hunt – Europe’s most popular startup job board.
  • Work in Startups – Here you can post your jobs for free in less than 2 minutes.
  • Startup Jobs – Another popular job board for European startups.
  • Startupers – A community of people enthusiastic about startup companies. You can post your jobs for free.

These job boards are visited by candidates already interested in working for a startup so make sure to post your open job positions there first.

Tip#10: Attend and organize events

Make an effort to attend or even speak and present at the local events where your ideal candidates could be found. It is a great opportunity to meet local experts and introduce yourself. You can even invite them to an event that you organize in your office, such as open days, meetups, workshop, etc. Don’t underestimate the power of networking and word of mouth!

Author: Anja Zojčeska is a Human Resources Manager and a Content Marketing Specialist at the recruitment software company TalentLyft. She is curious about the latest marketing trends and passionate about applying them in recruitment.

Anja Zojčeska-Human Resources Manager - Content Marketing Specialist -TalentLyft.png

About the author


A team of writers and marketers, MicroStartups was founded to inspire the entrepreneurial and business community to give back. We believe in business growth through giving and supporting the local community.

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