How Startups Recruit and Retain Top Talent
Recruit and Retain Top Talent
Advice for Management & Companies, Company Perks

How Startups Recruit and Retain Top Talent

How Startups Recruit and Retain Top Talent: While big names and industry giants cloud over the tech world, startups have found their own way to attract top talent.

Startups typically can’t provide the extravagant benefits package and generous salary offers, so how do they stay in the race for recruiting, hiring, and retaining top engineers and developers in their field? Most startups know these strategies can noticeably improve their recruitment efforts.

The need for software developers is only expected to grow as more and more companies adopt more technical avenues for doing business. The internet has opened the door for smaller businesses to make names for themselves, but it’s also created a dire need for web and app developers that only continues to grow. Startups, now more than ever, have to put their best foot forward if they want to attract and retain the best and brightest, likely leaning toward the bigger names in tech like Apple, Google, or Facebook. So just how can startups compete in this robust market?

Efficient Hiring

Referrals and networking prove to be more efficient for startups looking to hire than traditional routes used by larger companies. In fact, according to Coding Sans’ State of Software Development in 2018, over 25% of participants said they rely on employee referrals to fill open positions. Referrals work very well for startups because it minimizes the issue that smaller companies face – “I’m not familiar with that company so I won’t apply.” At least with preliminary understanding through a colleague or friend, the referral holds more weight than a cold opening, leading to a faster, more efficient recruitment cycle.

Many startups turn away from traditional staffing agencies because of their recruiting time and costs. Startups are looking for avenues to recruit talent in the most effective and efficient way possible. That’s why referrals and professional networking continue to be powerful sources of talent. This is the idea behind the talent acquisition platform, SkillGigs. We use our own professional network and encourage referrals to get the best and brightest in tech using our platform.

We remove the middleman (staffing agencies) and allow other companies of every size and industry to filter through, communicate, and hire top tech talent directly through SkillGigs. Schedule a demo today to see how your hiring team can use this innovative marketplace to find your next developer or designer.

Refined Hiring Criteria

Focusing on the most essential hiring criteria is ideal for a startup trying to attract top I.T. talent for its project. Technical skills, while important, are not considered the most crucial requirements for positions with most startups. Typically, startups are looking for qualified talent that fits well into the team dynamic. Constantly trying to find the ivy league grads with an assortment of letters and certifications attached to their names only slows down the process and limits the already limited pool of talent available for those vacant positions.

Startups are, more often than not, made up of relatively small teams. Making a bad hiring decision can dramatically impact the team as a whole in both morale and in functionality. This is why startups typically focus more on overall experience more so than traditional corporations.

Make It Interesting

If you’re trying to lure a candidate away from a handsome salary and the respectable name of Google on his resume, as a startup, you have to have a damn good argument in your favor. That’s why startups entice the best in the business by selling the why, not the what.

Why should I work for your startup and not a comfortable desk job with a generous benefits package? 

Startups get talent to leave other more traditional offers by attracting them to an idea that piques their interest as an intellectual. They offer them a mission that they can take ownership of, and feel interwoven with the bigger picture of the company, rather than just a developer pawn in the background.

What does this mean? Recruiting talent for startups is an offer of career growth. In a shorter amount of time, talent can gain skills and experience incomparable to the growth they would see at a larger company. Put yourself in the software developer’s shoes: When you’re one of three developers working on a site, you’re seeing much more playing time than you would if you were one of thirty.

If that isn’t enough of an argument, startups also use other tactics to keep talent engaged with their proposals. They offer a close-knit team atmosphere and a company culture that fit into the Millennial expectation of working for a startup. They use flexible scheduling, telecommuting, and on-site incentives that aren’t typically offered at larger corporations.

Keep It Challenging

While startups can’t always compete with salary packages offered at larger companies, startups can retain their talent the same way they recruited them: keeping it interesting. Using challenging work to keep their workforce motivated seriously helps the overall effort to not only recruit, but retain the best and brightest employees in the industry.

Offering autonomy is another way to keep talent engaged. Giving your top developers more challenging solo projects can keep them invested in the overarching project, making it more enticing to stay with the company.

Outsourcing When Possible

Sometimes getting the job done doesn’t have to be a permanent commitment. Startups have turned to outsourcing software development or relying on contractors for menial tasks that need to be done but don’t necessarily require a full-time employee. Startups can function off a smaller, more focused full-time team with an assortment of software development vendors and freelancers.

Expect the Unexpected

With all its newness and excitement, unfortunately, startups are not immune to employee turnover. In fact, in the early stages, startups are even more susceptible to high turnover rates, despite the best efforts to retain top talent. That’s why tech startups need to stay prepared for changes in personnel.

Having a system in place for the possibility of a 2 weeks notice from your top developer is crucial to the survival of a startup. It’s important that existing team members leave projects readily accessible and legible, comment on the code worked on (even if it seems obvious), and use documentation in the event of an employee quitting or taking leave.