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27 Feb

Hiring is always hard. Hiring for a startup can be even harder. Without the brand awareness or budget of a larger company, finding and attracting the right talent is a huge undertaking.

Your Current Employees
This might just be a startup’s most valuable recruitment channel. We’ve asked hiring managers where they source their successful hires, and employee referrals invariably rank at or near the top of the list. It’s easy to understand why. If you’ve got bright, passionate and capable people on your team, then it’s pretty likely that they know other bright, passionate and capable people. Plus, your current employees are on board with your startup’s mission and values – it’s unlikely that they’d refer someone who wasn’t aligned with where the company’s going and what it believes in. Once you’ve defined what skills you need to add to your team (maybe with the help of a candidate persona), communicate that with your current employees. Make sure they know that you welcome referrals. You might even consider some sort of referral bonus if budget allows.

LinkedIn and Social Media
This is a wildly effective recruitment channel for startups because you’re probably already working in these spaces. Beyond just having a presence, these sites allow your startup to tell its story. What are your values? Your mission? Your vision for the future? If it’s all out there beforehand, you don’t have to waste time in interviews rehashing the same information. It’ll be a lot easier to find the right talent if you’re actively engaged in creating awareness and sharing your story. Remember, although you can post jobs on social sites, you should keep active even when you’re not recruiting.

Industry / Founder / Employee Networks
Equally important as keeping active on social is keeping active in your community. You should always be actively engaged in networking. This probably isn’t new to you – you probably already attend events relevant to your business, but I’d venture to guess that the focus has typically been on engaging with prospective customers or investors. But don’t forget about building your team, since networking can be a particularly fruitful recruitment channel for startups. Mentioning that your company is looking for additional talent is a great way to make more connections and potentially find a new employee.

Job Boards
This might be an obvious one, but remember that not all job boards are equal. Where you are, what your company does and what startup roles you’re looking to fill should all be considering when researching which job boards are right for you. There are a lot of free options out there, including government sites, Indeed, Craigslist and more. Free listings are attractive to the wallet, but do your research and make sure that in your market they’ll bring in the right applicants. Quality’s the key here, not quantity.

When you go down the paid route, keep in mind that different job boards will attract different talent. Monster and Workopolis both generally have wide reach, but you might also want to consider boards that are more niche. AngelList and Hired are both popular with startups, but there are even more specific boards you can look at as well. Looking for technical people? Try Crunchboard. Looking for sales staff? Try Sales Gravy. Once you start looking at paid boards, research is even more important because the price tag can really range. Before you pay, don’t be afraid to request a free trial – many of the boards will be happy to do this for your first posting.

The point here is to do your research. If you’re not posting on the right boards you won’t be attracting the right applicants and you’re going to end up spending your valuable time screening an inbox overflowing with unviable applicants.

One final note: don’t rely on just a single recruitment channel alone. Just like with other aspects of your business, you want to take a holistic approach when it comes to hiring those vital startup roles. Your people are by far your most important asset, so you need to make sure that you’re attracting and hiring talented people who are excited about what your company does. Finding people who are fully aligned with your values and mission can be the difference your startup needs to really thrive!