Question: What’s your top tip for recruiting rock-star talent to your brand-new business when salary money is tight?
Question by: Ashley
The Perk of Autonomy
“Salary isn’t everything, and talented individuals thrive on interesting work, challenges, and the opportunity to make a big impact. You can recruit top talent by giving newcomers a lot of autonomy to execute upon what they think is important, and supporting them however you can. Of course, equity ownership (in the form of options or restricted stock) also helps.”
Pitch the Vision
“If you have a vision, people will want to work with you to be a part of your cause, even if you don’t have money. You must be really clear on what you are creating and where you are going, and be able to clearly communicate that to other people. Not everyone’s highest value is money. Some people want to make a difference or be a part of something grand. So paint it beautiful.”
Freedom Is Valuable
“The life in a startup doesn’t always pay well, but there are other intangibles that far outweigh the financial hurdles. Working for a startup gives your staff freedom — freedom to work from home, freedom to introduce their own ideas, and freedom to truly grow exponentially in their role with your business. Don’t discount these other important factors.”
Bonuses and Incentives
“If the prospect is truly a rock star, he/she will be more interested in equity, bonuses and other performance-based incentives. These employees are inherently hard workers that are driven by passion. If you can leverage that passion for their own success, they will be very comfortable with the compensation arrangement. “
“Tailor your offer accordingly. Not everyone is focused squarely on cash, so find out what else they desire. It could be flexible hours, a piece of the action, the nature of the project itself or even an innovative challenge. Learn what they want and shape your package to them.”
Perks and Promises
“Business rock stars want their talent to be recognized and to receive perks as if they were a Grammy winner. The obvious: equity options, profit sharing, flexible hours, mentorship, deferred compensation plan. The creative: sports/concert tickets, annual fundraiser for their favorite charity, dry cleaning pickup, dog walking service, weekly car wash. Thoughtfulness doesn’t have to be expensive.”
Grab the Graduates!
“We strive to find great people straight out of school, this strategy works well on several levels. First, recent grads have fewer living expenses and are usually looking for a starting level salary. Second, we want to find people who are passionate, even if they are less experienced — but who have the ability to learn quickly.”
Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast
“People want to work for companies that truly care about them. So get clear on your culture values and what you stand for as a company. How do you invest in your employees? How are you working to make the world a better place? For many people, the rewards of belonging to something larger than themselves is priceless.”
“I recruit talent by emphasizing benefits and building solid relationships. Our company is entirely virtual, which is a draw for many folks who don’t want to relocate or commute to work every day. In our job listings, we make this benefit clear. I also try to connect with young PR professionals on LinkedIn and Twitter in order to have a talent pool to draw from when we do have an opening.”
Green Candidates Are Worth the Investment
“The employment market is filled with highly skilled workers who are demanding below-market compensation. Your best bet is to cast a wide net with your job listing and solicit as many resumes as possible. I have personally found the best talent looking in the most uneducated areas. Look for personality and attitude, not experience and skills. You can teach experience and skills, but not attitude.”
Create High Value
“For many, the idea of working for a startup is exciting and a chance to create a space in a company, versus being one of the sheep in a herd. By creating high value for those individuals and creating a space that is attractive, you can bring in top talent who are there long-term, instead of for just a “job.” Make your business a place that YOU would be excited to work so the passion pours out.”
Raise Their Voices
“Hire people that don’t see money as their number one motivator. Some of the best talent that I have hired is people that want to feel like they have a say and are part of something growing.”
Stay Far Away!
“Calling talent you’re recruiting “rock stars” is an amateur move and red flag to good people. Rock stars are needy, self-centered egotists — do you really want to hire the drunken guy who only eats blue M&Ms? Some of the best talent you need for a startup are the exact opposite: humble, hard-working, team-first individuals who care more about the vision and opportunity than their own gain.”
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, the YEC recently launched #StartupLab, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses via live video chats, an expert content library and email lessons.