14 Tips for Recruiting the Best Employees for Your Startup


Question: What’s your best tip for attracting top talent to a new startup?



Cultivate Future Leaders

“Highlight the experience your company can offer. Don’t focus on recruiting top talent by offering all the perks in the world; instead, make cultivating talent, who will eventually become leaders, a priority. It should be about the prospect’s passion for what your company is doing, not the daily catered meals (though I’m sure that’s nice, too).”


Understand What Makes Them Tick

“Everyone wants to be heard, and certainly understood. We’re a very strengths-based organization and we start from the day we begin recruiting or courting new talent. If you take the time to get to know what someone is looking for and what drives them, you not only can qualify if they’re the right fit for your team, but customize their role and your offer to what’s most important to them. Win-win!” Follow @laurenperkins

LAUREN PERKINS Perks Consulting

Sell the Vision

“We pay less. We work harder. We work longer hours. The only reason to join our team is because you want to be a part of what we are building. The best people want to be a part of big visions, so sell the vision. “


Be Aggressive and Relentless

“Anybody that’s any good, especially in a city like San Francisco or NYC, is going to be looking at a dozen or more offers. In order to close him, besides being generous with compensation, you have to be aggressive, getting your investors to call him on your behalf. Relentlessly follow up. Even more important, be organized with your interview process and move quickly without delay. Follow @sitepointmatt

MATT MICKIEWICZ Flippa and 99designs

Get Great Press

“Aside from selling the mission and vision of your startup, a great tip for reeling in awesome talent for your firm is to attract great media attention. Press is a wonderful conduit for getting more exposure to your business. Being able to share your mission with a broader audience means that your startup will get more eyeballs, and that extra reader may be your next best team member.”


Empower Them With Ownership

“Empower them with ownership and the opportunity to make decisions. People drawn to startups are disillusioned by big corporate structures and weary of working in an environment where they have no voice. If you tie the talent to the success of the company, everybody wins. Moreover, allow them to exercise the skills they enjoy employing. Retention skyrockets when talent is empowered and impassioned.”


Discover a Shared Passion

“Share your vision for your startup and what you hope to accomplish. Trying to lure top talent with perks, pay or other options may get their attention, but the people you should really be seeking are the ones interested in finding a role where they can have a meaningful contribution to something exciting. Plus, someone who isn’t passionate about what you are doing won’t be a great fit.”

BRANT BUKOWSKY Veterans United Home Loans

Network at Conferences

“We have found it helpful to attend industry-related conferences and casually chat with people who are attending or speaking to spread the word regarding available opportunities. If the person likes us, they will like working with or for us and/or recommend us to others who they think would be a good culture fit. Finding the right culture fit is more important to us than the depth of their skills.”


Take Your Time

“If you’ve set your company culture the way you want it, take your time during the hiring process. The culture will attract better people instantly. I’ve been known to conduct as many as five one-on-one interviews before hiring new personnel. That’s on top of several phone interviews with the prospect and other staff. I need to be absolutely sure the talent is where I want it. “

BRIAN MORAN Get 10,000 Fans

Be Transparent

“I’m always transparent with potential new hires. I show them our progress, but I also want them to see the warts. This is important for two reasons: 1) They’ll know exactly where the company stands. 2) It builds trust. Sharing the bad with the good shows employees that they can trust you to tell it like it is. Transparency sets an important standard for any company.”


Don’t Sell

“Conventional wisdom is to sell potential recruits on the company, vision, perks, etc. Don’t. Just tell them what you are and, more importantly, what you aren’t. You may lose some “rock stars” along the way, but you’ll build a loyal group of employees who know exactly what they signed up for.”


Show Off Company Talent

“A-players want to work with other A-players. So, it’s critical to showcase just how talented your current team is to a prospective employee. Besides making the recruit feel special, it also makes your team feel special to know that you value and respect their talents and abilities.” Follow @4collegeparents

SARAH SCHUPP UniversityParent

Hire Non-Local Talent

“Recruit people to your company and to your city. Santa Monica sells itself. When people relocate for a job, their commitment level is high, and their external social distractions are low. It’s an ideal circumstance for a startup where hours are often unreasonable.”


Emphasize Culture Fit

“Our company doesn’t necessarily look for “top talent” so much as it looks for high-character people with a good work ethic and technical aptitude. We look for people who are a fit for our culture, which is more important on a long-term basis for the good of the team.”

JOE BARTON Barton Publishing

The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.



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