Skip to content
Back to Blog

4 innovative ways tech startups can compete for talent

Elevate Talent

Dec 2, 2019 5:00:00 PM

Contributed by Elevate

In today’s competitive job market, companies are having to get creative in how they attract the right candidate to their open positions. Technology giants like Google, Apple, and Facebook are legendary for offering high salaries and luxurious perks. Few tech startups can compete against the six-figure salaries at these industry juggernauts.  

As it’s estimated that roughly 4.5 million new tech jobs will be created to fuel the widespread adoption of the Internet of Things, shortages in tech talent will continue for the foreseeable future. Luckily, there are plenty of other benefits a tech startup can offer potential new hires. Here’s what a tech startup can offer – and how they can recruit differently – to compete for talent in today’s competitive market.  

Look beyond the CV

Consider this: less than 50% of software developers have eight years of experience in coding; even fewer have more than five years of professional experience. Lots of coders aren’t coming from traditional hiring sources, like universities and computer science programs. 

Over 80% of programmers enjoy coding as a hobby, and almost all professional developers are learning their skills informally. Therefore, tech start-ups must get creative in how they find and validate the capabilities of new talent. Monica Zeng, hiring manager at Aragon One, goes straight to a candidate’s social profiles and portfolio to learn more about their work. “We want people who have a high sense of curiosity, a strong sense of purpose, who are active in the open-source community, who have nonconformist ideas both professionally and ideologically, and who are critical thinkers. We want contributors, not just workers,” says Zeng.

Diversify your candidate pipeline by looking away from traditional job boards and reach candidates who are a better match for your tech start-up. Thinking outside the box to improve your inbound recruiting can increase your likelihood of finding a great new hire. 

Recruit from the top

As consulting firm McKinsey argues, “Talent attracts talent, especially in technology functions.” Tech startups can leverage high-profile hires to build a world-class team. Be prepared to spend big on a CTO or other senior executive who can bring in a team of the same caliber. Once you have your executive, work with a recruiting firm to mine the executive’s network for passive candidates or to identify those who would work at your start-up. Use your rockstar manager’s reputation as a selling point to compete for talent on the open market. 

Highlight your strong culture

Salary is important, but so is company culture. Millennials, in particular, want to work at a place where they feel valued. “Promote the company culture first. Studies show that today’s employees want more than a paycheck. They want purpose and to be working on something they believe in,” one expert told the US Chamber of Commerce

Culture is more than just a ping pong table in the break room. When millennials say they want to work with purpose, it’s not just about making them feel part of a larger company mission. It’s about the social values of your business as well. One survey found that: 

  • 63% of millennials said the purpose of business should be “improving society”

  • 94% of millennials want to use their skills to benefit a cause

  • 57% of millennials wish there were more company-wide volunteer days

Find ways to highlight how your tech startup has impact on society at large. Volunteering doesn’t cost anything but time; it’s a low-stakes, high-reward way to attract talented individuals to your business.

Offer autonomy

One of the benefits frequently touted of working at a startup is that it’s an all-hands-on deck, collaborative, fast-paced work environment. To live up to that reputation, you need to trust the people you hire to do a great job. Flexibility and autonomy are two huge perks your tech startup can highlight in the race for talent. 

The CEO of Avvo, a legal services marketplace, says he’s seen a lot of success from giving engineers a degree of independence. “He said Avvo not only gives employees free rein for their work, but ‘even around how we run the organization.’” 

Likewise, Fast Company stays flexibility starts at onboarding. “Once you extend an offer, give candidates some say over what teams they can join and what work they can begin taking on. The chance to have a say in how they spend their time right from the get-go can be a deciding factor in which offer candidates ultimately accept.” 

When you believe in your new hires, they’ll be loyal with you – reducing turnover and decreasing the need for you to dive back into the job market in the future. See how Elevate Talent can help you build a world-class startup team: get in touch with us on LinkedIn. 

Originally posted on Elevate here.


Written By:

Elevate Talent

Want to get our totally not sh*tty weekly newsletter?

Sometimes The Wayfarer is funny, sometimes insightful, but always the least spammy newsletter this side of Tatooine.