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10 tips for recruiting the best talent in startups

25 Feb 2020

In the early days of a company, the founders are usually responsible for running all areas of the business. Until you’re in a position to bring more people into your team you’ll wear lots of different hats at once, switching between marketing and finance, say, as you grow your company. 

Working on multiple areas of your business can feel overwhelming, especially if they’re new to you. That’s why we’re here to help you grow your business through key areas, without spending a fortune. We’ll be focusing on two important topics, recruitment and customer service. 

Recruitment is one of the tasks that often lies with the founders until later in a company’s life. Hiring the right people is key for growing your business, but it can be tricky to work out where to start. There are also lots of expensive options for help which may make you feel as though you have to spend lots of precious runway money to attract the best talent. Thankfully, it is possible to find great people without spending too much, even if you’re not an expert in the area.

1. Make the most of LinkedIn 

LinkedIn is the number one tool for anyone looking to hire new employees. More than 25 million job seekers search LinkedIn every week. At the very least you should have a company page set up with live jobs advertised to get yourself in front of these job hunters. And make sure you have a good amount of information on your company page to entice prospective employees and give them a flavour of your business. 

You can also use your standard, free LinkedIn account to search for people with specific skills or experience and can connect with them to start a conversation about your vacancies. And if you have a lot of roles to fill, you could consider upgrading to LinkedIn premium. The contract is rolling so you can cancel any time, even after a month if you’d like. The premium account gives more options for searching which aren’t restricted to your current network, and you’ll be able to send messages to people you aren’t yet connected with.

2. The best people may already have jobs

Remember, the right person for your company may not be looking for a job when your vacancy opens up. Posting on a job board won’t be enough to attract these kinds of applicants. Instead, you will need to search them out. LinkedIn is the best place to do this. A simple search of ‘job title + specific skills’ can be enough to find potential hires with the right experience. You can drill down further if you would like to add more to your search chain. Think about your ideal candidate: where would they have worked before? What qualifications would you like them to have? How many years of experience do they need? The answers can help you form searches to plug into LinkedIn.

3. Tailor your communications

If you’re reaching out to someone you don’t know to ask them to apply to join your company, you need to really tailor what you say. Impersonal, bulk messages won’t cut it, so don’t copy and paste the same text to multiple candidates. Instead, personalise your communication. What makes you think they’d be a great candidate for your job? Pick out something from their profile or experience and mention it in your initial message. That way, the person will see you’ve taken the time to read their profile and will know your opportunity is relevant to them.

4. Post roles on Indeed

While searching for the right person is a great way to source candidates, it’s time-consuming too, so it’s worth putting your jobs out there to be searched. Indeed is probably the best place to post your vacancies, alongside LinkedIn. The site is one of the largest job websites in the world, with huge reach in multiple countries. More than 44 million UK job seekers visit the site each month, so there’s the potential for your job to reach plenty of people.

Indeed also has some great, affordable options for increasing the reach of your job ads. You can boost a job so that it features in a higher position in more searches. You can choose exactly how much you’d like to pay to do this and a little can go a long way, offering a great return on your investment.  

5. Track your candidates

A simple Excel spreadsheet noting a candidate’s name, contact details and the stage they are in your recruitment process will save you a great deal of headache. This is especially true if you’re sharing the task of hiring between two or more people, and will help prevent any mishaps or miscommunication. Make sure you add the name of any candidates you reach out to as well, even if they end up not replying. This will make it much easier when sourcing for future job roles as you can see if you’ve already interacted with a potential applicant.  

6. Schedule like a pro 

Use a tool like Calendly to eliminate the painful process of emailing back and forth to schedule meetings and interviews. Calendly syncs with your diary to show your availability, which you then send out to whoever you’re arranging to meet. The other person chooses a time that suits them, and the event automatically adds itself to your diary. 

Automating scheduling will save you loads of time and effort when setting up interviews, especially if you’re trying to coordinate with several people to set up several chats. It works for multi-person meetings too.

7. Go to universities for junior roles

Universities are a treasure trove of amazingly talented, eager potential candidates for small businesses. Graduates are perfect for junior roles in your company and universities are usually very willing to work with companies looking to hire. Often, you can speak to someone in the specialism you’re looking to hire into (e.g. Computer Science for tech roles) and advertise your vacancy for free on the student job board. Sometimes, university staff will recommend specific students too. 

University career’s fairs are also great places to meet students and tell them about your company. You could even consider offering internships to students who aren’t in their final year to set up a pipeline of potential hires for the future. 

8. Don’t be afraid to negotiate

As your company grows, you may have several roles to fill at once, and managing it all yourself could become overwhelming. At the same time, you probably won’t yet have the money to hire someone dedicated to recruitment. Here is where a recruitment agency might be able to help. Using an agency can be beneficial as they would take the advertising, sourcing and screening of candidates off your hands. They would also handle the entire candidate experience and are experts in their field.

Lots of young companies are put off by the perceived hefty price tag of recruitment agencies, but it is possible to bring this down. Don’t be afraid to negotiate, especially if you have several roles to fill. Feel out a few agencies and see if you can strike up a deal.

9. Network

When companies like Facebook and Google started, many of their first employees were people the founders already knew. Chances are, you’ll be building your network to benefit business growth and development already, but it’s a great tool for recruitment too. Hiring people you know, people you have met, or someone a friend knows can eliminate some of the risks that comes from working with someone new. And broadening your network on LinkedIn is never a bad thing; the more connections you have, the more people will see your job posts and the wider your free searches will reach.

To meet relevant new acquaintances, search for networking events that relate to the roles you are hiring for and go along. Don’t be too pushy; you might not even want to mention your job opportunities when you first meet someone. And when you do meet new people, always follow up by adding them on LinkedIn. Even if they aren’t looking for a job, they might know someone who is.

10. Be aware of GDPR rules

To make sure you comply with GDPR rules, you need to think about how long you can store candidate data for, as well as how you store it. Candidates are also able to request to view the data you hold on them at any time, so make sure your filing system allows for the quick retrieval of details.

We hope our tips will help make your recruitment process easier, allowing you to grow your company with the best people on board. Stay tuned for our next piece which will help you ace your customer service. 


Recruitment industry