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How start-ups can recruit and retain top talent

Philip Shepherd

30th July 2019

Hiring talented staff can be a tough task for even the biggest companies, but it’s a particular challenge for start-ups, who have no brand recognition or proven track record to rely on.


While it’s a tough ask, it’s not impossible if you know what you’re doing. Here are some tips to help you recruit top talent for your start-up that will stay with you and help to grow your company.


Plan your recruitment strategy


The most important thing is to put in the time to plan your recruitment strategy before you start making phone calls or firing off emails.


With any headhunting campaign, you only get one chance to make the right first impression. This is all the more important when dealing with high-profile candidates. If you haven’t thought through your offer, requirements, ethos or business plan before making your approach, you’ll make a fool of yourself when met with any scrutiny.


Create an employer value proposition


No matter how big or small the company, prospective candidates need to understand the value presented by the job prospect.


Salary is just one of a number of benefits that can attract talent, but it’s important to ensure that other factors are covered too. Work-life balance has become one of the most important aspects to job candidates, with flexible hours and remote working options being some of the top requirements. Figure out exactly what value you bring to potential candidates, other than just the salary, and emphasise this in your offer.


Create an inspiring story


People love to empathise, and by making sure that your brand tells an inspiring story is key to winning over both customers and new recruits.


Start-ups often have a heart-warming or unusual story behind their inception that makes them unique. These human elements are the foundation of who you are as a brand, and how people see you.


By inspiring someone to believe in you, they are more invested in your success and better able to envision your business journey.


Prioritise hiring great leaders


The initial people that you hire should be experienced, competent and, most importantly, great leaders.


Prioritising leadership skills in your first wave of recruitment will help to better shape the rest of your workforce. Hire people that can lead by example, inspiring people to do great things rather than barking orders. Great leaders focus on people instead of numbers.


Take the time to create a strong foundation of leadership within your organisation and you will create a culture of long-term staff retention and great performance.


Work with a headhunter or recruitment agency


If you are a brand-new, unheard-of company, your chosen high-level candidates might not give you the time of day.


To improve your chances of having your pitch listened to and properly considered, work with a specialist headhunting or executive recruitment agency. Doing so will give your offer more clout, as it is coming from a reputable source instead of an unknown quantity.


Headhunters also have many connections that are not available to most people, and their experience in recruiting top talent will be invaluable when it comes to presenting your offer.

Philip Shepherd

Philip Shepherd

Founder & CEO

Philip specialises in: Senior, Director and C-Level roles in Digital Marketing

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020 7183 7145