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How to Hire Top Talent for a Start-up when Competing Against Big Tech Companies?
Jan 5, 2024

How to Hire Top Talent for a Start-up when Competing Against Big Tech Companies?

Navigate the startup landscape with strategic insights on recruiting top talent while competing against tech giants.

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Winning the talent war against big tech companies (FAANG companies, Microsoft, Tesla etc.) requires more than just offering a competitive salary. Big tech firms usually offer more than industry average salaries, career progression programs, ESOPs, and lots of other non-traditional benefits. Start-ups may not be able to offer the same perks as the larger competitors can, but there are smart ways to go about recruiting the industry’s best and brightest.

1. Sell The "Startup Culture"

The attractions of a big tech company are brand, perks, job security and structure. And those of a start-up include making a difference, flexibility, a team of like-minded people and personal growth. Start-ups need to capitalize on these selling points and find people who would thrive in a start-up environment. 

2. Offer Equity 

Start-ups can offer equity to the candidates. While larger tech companies can offer infrastructure and brand credibility, they cannot offer substantial vesting opportunities in the same fashion start-ups can. This is a risk for both the start-up and the candidate, yet that only prompts both parties to thoroughly validate one another before committing to an association.

3. Tempt Candidates With Exciting Projects 

The technology sector is becoming more and more prominent. There is a great variety of start-ups with great technological potential, and this allows employees to be involved in various projects and have more say in important decisions. Therefore, it will be necessary to transmit an attractive and exciting project to attract candidates. 

4. Tell How Your Company is Making a Difference 

People go where they feel valued and want to be involved in projects which are making a difference. Knowing and clearly articulating what you do as a company and why you do it is the first step in attracting others who want to make a difference in the same way. All founders should take time to connect with everyone. No matter what the size of your start-up is, you can always value your employees and add value to them in some way.

5. Recruit and Train Industry Outsiders 

You can recruit from outside of your industry. There are many talented candidates who want to switch to a different industry but need an entry point into the new field. If you're willing to train for industry-specific skills, you'll find talent with the basic knowledge needed who will be delighted to quickly learn and contribute to what you do. 

6. Create Comprehensive Compensation Packages 

The best thing you can do as a start-up tech company is to offer the best comprehensive packages possible to potential employees, not just a salary. Be employee-centric, forward-thinking and flexible with compensation. Don't skimp on health insurance, telework options, 401(k) plans or educational and professional development benefits. Invest in people, and they will return the favor.

7. Foster A Growth Mindset Culture 

The opportunity of getting a growth mindset and building something from scratch always has its own reward for innovative and creative developer talent. By fostering a growth mindset culture and highlighting these opportunities, smaller tech companies can build a reputation that attracts top talent.

8. Focus On Lifestyle And Relationships 

It is hard to complete with the Googles of the world. Yet, it is also true that not all brilliant candidates want that kind of glitzy lifestyle. Many actually want a slower pace and meaningful relationships. By focusing on lifestyle and relationships, smaller tech companies can be serious competitors in the race for top talent.

Having said that the mindset of an employee at any start-up is very, very different from the mindset you’ll see in employees of established tech companies. It’s a mindset of meritocracy. It’s not about hierarchy, it’s not about procedures and established roles, and it’s about you’re going to do whatever it takes to get things done. Not everyone is suitable for this kind of culture. Recruiting someone with such skills can be daunting for any founder.

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