How can startups compete with big companies in the war for tech talent?
And it’s even harder for small businesses and start-ups with no track record of success and no established brand. So how can start-ups compete?
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Talent attracting strategies for startups
Here are some of the most effective strategies startups can deploy to attract top tech talent:
1. Culture is the key
Developing a great company culture is a vital part of establishing a startup. It can also help in attracting top talent.
If you cultivate a culture that appeals to techs, you can present your startup as a refreshing alternative to larger companies that are slow to respond to changes in employee needs.
Make sure your startup reflects the things that matter to tech talent:
Create an engaging work environment
Offer challenging work
Present opportunities for growth.
One of the best ways to get people to buy into your culture is to allow them to literally do just that. Offering equity in the business not only helps people feel invested, but it also helps shore up one of the key weakness of a startup: job security.
Venture-backed startups generally offer 10% – 20% of the total shares. This sort of incentive will give the new hire an investment that they might not get in a larger business.
2. Stand out from the crowd
If you want to attract the top tech talent, find out what they want and see how you can align those desires to your business needs.
Tech experts can afford to be picky, so it's important to play to your strengths. Demonstrate the influence a position in a startup can bring.
Tech directors in startups can make a big impact on shaping the company’s future. They are able to pursue their vision without having to do battle against the forces of bureaucracy. Many established tech experts often move from big corporate to startups for this very reason.
But, it isn't just the established talent you should be going after…
3. Target the up and coming talent
Tech and STEM skills are on the rise in education. As such, many graduates have the tech skills a startup needs. With campus recruiting, you can set up relationships with top universities and offer internships to graduates. That way, you can get the inside track on the fresh new talent.
Over 50% of software developers have been coding for less than 8 years and have less than 5 years of professional experience. This is part of the reason why experienced developers are so hard to find: they are in the minority.
The opportunity for businesses is to create spaces to cultivate new talent and invest early in developers. While they lack professional development, the survey reinforces the belief that developers love coding.
Over 80% enjoy coding as a hobby and almost all professional developers learn new skills informally. Most commonly, this is through online courses and community events, like hackathons.
When looking for new candidates, look beyond the CV and work experience. Extracurricular activities and portfolio work should be taken into consideration with more weight than other roles. This may reveal much more about your candidate than you might think.
4. Get the word out
For years, networking has been used to secure talent. Word of mouth continues to be a cheap and effective way to source tech experts.
Your first port of call should be your staff. Do what you can to foster positive word-of-mouth about your company and team. A beneficial referral program will encourage your employees to reach out through their personal networks for you.
Spend some time visiting tech events and conferences. These events are designed to share ideas and network with leading tech talent. You should also bear in mind that not all techs work in Tech. In fact, only around 20% of techs work specifically in web development or a similar vocation.
All industries need tech these days, so when you're looking for places to network, bear that in mind. Financial service, media, healthcare, consultancies… these are just a few of the diverse range of industries tech pros are working in. The more hands you can shake, the more opportunities you create.
Extra tip for attracting tech talent: Avoid traditional job boards
It's very unlikely that you'll find leading tech talent on the Monsters and Indeeds of the world. There are two reasons for this.
Firstly, there are many tech-specific recruiters out there who have relationships with leading companies with a need for tech talent.
Secondly, the tech community is very tight and many tech experts get new positions through colleague referral. This is part of the reason why getting the word out is so important.
At GitHub you will find tech-savvy developers and Unicorn Hunt has a huge talent pool with a startup focus.
Hiring top tech talent IS possible for startups!
Hiring top tech talent is not impossible for startups. The key is to lean into what makes your business stand out and use your agility to your advantage.
Find out more about the people you want to hire and start exploring their communities for future opportunities.
About the author
The article was produced by Montash, a leading global technology recruitment company helping to find the very best talent within Information Security, DevOps, SAP, Cloud Computing, and other IT specialisms.