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How start-ups attract great talent

Attracting talent can be tough for a new start-up; you’ve got a great idea, the passion to pursue your goals and solid financial backing but, even with all this, it can be hard to convince the greatest candidates to join a company that lacks the history and security of a more established business.

Fear not, there’s a whole host of things you can do to bring great people to your team. We spoke to specialist IT recruiters, Langley James, to get their unique insights into the secrets of talent attraction for start-ups:

Being a new start-up doesn’t have to put you at a disadvantage if the opportunity is packaged correctly. In fact, it can be quite the opposite – just think like a fighter; if you’re small – you’re nimble. You’re not fat – you’re immovable. You’re never too tall – you have reach. Start-ups offer unique challenges and exciting opportunities that established businesses can’t. So, instead of worrying about your weaknesses, focus on your strengths.

What are the key strengths start-ups can highlight to attract big talent?

A new challenge: Start-ups can be challenging, but that’s no bad thing. The kind of people you want to attract are the ones who thrive on that. There’s a lot of talented professionals out there who are yearning for excitement and variety after years of ‘safe’ (boring) employment. Let them see why your idea would work, share your passion, and let them express their own. The right people, the ones who will help your business thrive, are the ones who will be excited by the challenges you have to offer.

Doing the right thing: If you are honest and straightforward with your dream, people can see it. Everyone wants to fight for the little guy, so remind people they have the choice to go up against “the man” (whoever that may be in your field). Beyond that, start-ups that focus on solving societal or global issues inspire people to care more about the company goal than their own ambition. If this sounds like your business, show it! Inspire people, let them be part of something bigger than themselves, something meaningful.

Dollar signs: There’s no denying it, joining the right start-up is a chance to get in on the ground floor of the next big thing. Make sure you show people what they stand to gain from being part of the first wave of employees. After all, knowing what they do today, would you say no to the first bite of Apple, the inside track on Spotify or a stake in McDonalds? Absolutely not.

The start-up experience: There is something magical about being part of a new business; everyone is excited, passionate and keen to build something incredible. There is generally a ‘work hard, play hard’ mentality too, so the social side of this kind of work can be incredible.

More often than not, start-ups foster a relaxed environment where the rules are more flexible than you’d find in big business. This often includes flexible working, options to work remotely, and a more informal approach to working hours (think “start when you want as long as the work gets done”). This mentality particularly appeals to creatives, energetic salespeople and anyone with parental or caring responsibilities who would really benefit from the flexibility.

How do you find great candidates?

So, now you have considered your strengths, it’s time to think about how you will approach your next hire. Treat the activity as a marketing exercise instead of a recruitment job – the main objective is to inspire candidate interest to motivate applications, before creating desire during the interviews that ensures shortlisted people want the job before you make any offers.

How, you ask? Well, you wouldn’t advertise your services by saying “We’re looking for new business clients who will pay on time and won’t complain”, so why position job adverts like that?

When advertising for staff, you need to put your own wants and needs behind those of the candidate. Of course, you need to ensure you make clear what the role will involve, and the experience a person will need in order to be successful, but first highlight the company proposition.

Treat prospective employees like you would customers – develop an attractive marketing and sales pitch to inspire and create desire. Help candidates to imagine working in the role. Ask yourself, what’s in it for the candidate?

  • The Challenge (the problems to solve that will challenge a person’s abilities)
  • Development (training, technology, new experiences on offer)
  • Career progression (help them to envision a successful future with you)
  • The chance to work with good people or for a great leader
  • An enjoyable work environment
  • Ethics and values
  • Financial rewards (both now and in the future)

Work this information into job adverts and agency briefings (if you plan to use a recruiter) to help attract the best people. Once this is done, focus on building an interview structure that will make the candidate want the job even more. Of course, you need to ask questions that will allow you to see if they are the right person for the job, but you must also remember to foster desire.

This means selling the opportunity throughout the interview process using the above information, rather than leaving it all in the advert (a mistake many hiring managers make). Get them really excited about you and your company, and they’ll jump at the chance to join you!

How Langley James can help you

We recruit IT professionals worth recruiting. No matter the requirement, we have the passion and experience to find the very best people for your business.

Over the decades, we have built an extensive network of over one million candidates across the UK. Whether you’re looking for IT support, network support, infrastructure or senior management, we can help.

Call us now on 0207 099 4839 to find out more, or visit our website

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