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5 Tips for Convincing People to Join Your Startup

As a fledgling startup, you don’t have nearly the resources that more established businesses in your industry have. This makes it more difficult to bring on top talent because they are easily lured to larger companies with bigger budgets. Thankfully, there are some things you can do to make your startup more appealing to prospects.

The Problem With Hiring for a Startup

Hiring for a startup comes with a number of unique challenges, the most difficult of which is the stigma associated with working for a startup. Here are just a few of the reasons talented professionals are generally turned off by the idea:

  • Lower pay. In many cases, employees at startups aren’t paid. If they do receive compensation, it’s either greatly reduced or comes in some deferred format that may or may not ever come to fruition. Most people aren’t in a position where they can forgo money, which makes it challenging to reach a large pool of people.
  • Longer hours. While less pay would usually equate to less work, this isn’t usually the case with startups. There is always something to do and not enough people to get it done. Therefore, it’s not uncommon for startup employees to work 12- or 15-hour days with very little downtime and brief weekends.
  • Lack of stability. In a normal office job, employees come in, know what to expect, and leave. This stability allows them to get in a groove and figure things out. With startups, there is no stability. Things change from day to day and employees are forced to wear multiple hats.
  • Risky future. The vast majority of startups fail – that is just the truth. Most people aren’t willing to attach themselves to a startup when they know that failure is likely.

This certainly isn’t the case in every situation – and by no means does this imply that your startup has to deal with all of these shortcomings – but the general consensus is that startups offer lower pay, longer hours, less stability, and a murky future. By coming to grips with reality and recognizing this common viewpoint, you can put yourself in a better position to succeed.​

Five Tips for Convincing People to Join

When you have all of these strikes counting against you, convincing people to join your startup can seem like an uphill challenge of monumental proportions. While it won’t be easy, you can use these tips to make some progress.

  1. Highlight Experiences Over Compensation

It’s a common misconception that compensation is the only thing that matters to an employee. While salary definitely plays a critical role, there is so much more to a job than the money. Satisfaction and happiness go a long way toward enticing people to choose one employer over the other.

For startups, it can be helpful to study talent acquisition models from more established companies who understand the value of selling the experience. Park West Gallery is the perfect example. They’ve established an entire website that is dedicated to shining a light on their career opportunities as fine art auctioneers. They publish enticing content that highlights the experiential factors of working for the company and the reasons why people should consider applying for open jobs.

Stop reverting to salary figures simply because that is what the job market tells you is important. You can’t compete on salary and you shouldn’t try to.

  1. Create a Team-Oriented Atmosphere

Your employees are going to spend the majority of their waking hours in your office. As such, they want to know they’ll enjoy being around the people who work for your company. This is why a team-oriented atmosphere goes so far.

In order to show interested people a little bit about your team, spice up the interview process. Don’t just bring them into a boardroom and ask questions. Let them spend some time in the office. Send them out to grab a cup of coffee with a couple employees. Anything you can do to show your company’s team-oriented atmosphere will help.

  1. Offer Enticing Perks

While perks can get pretty ridiculous in some startups, they exist for a reason. Perks tend to engage employees and keep them happy. Just ask Cathy Guthrie, human resource director for SpareFoot in Austin, Texas.

“Perks absolutely play a big role in how we are able to recruit in a hot market,” Guthrie confidently says. “We have a no vacation policy, policy – you take what you need and schedule it as an adult – you self-manage. We believe that you can balance your real life and your work life in a harmonious way.”

  1. Make Flexible Scheduling a Priority

Speaking of no vacation policies, flexible scheduling is something that many of today’s leading professionals are seeking. They don’t expect to work less, but they want the opportunity to orient their schedules around personal preferences and other things happening in their lives.

Examples of flexible scheduling include the opportunity to work remotely multiple days per week, flex scheduling where you can come in early and leave early, and the ability to pack five days worth of work into four days.

  1. Show Confidence and Poise

When you confront people about working for your company, are you doing so in an apologetic manner? For example, you may phrase it like this: “I know we’re just a startup and can’t offer what other companies can, but we would love to have you join our team.” How weak and pathetic does that sound? You’re basically apologizing for your company and then asking if they want to be part of it.

Instead, you should take a more confident approach. Say something like: “We are experiencing some major growth right now and are anticipating big things happening in the next couple months. Let us know if you’re interested in getting involved.” Notice the difference?

Hire the Right People

At the end of the day, you need to focus on more than just bringing people into the fold. Just because you can convince someone to join your startup, doesn’t mean they’re the right employee for the job. While beggars can’t be choosers, you can’t afford to build your startup on a faulty foundation.

“Sometimes you recruit someone who at first appears to be the perfect candidate for your startup,” Chalmers Brown of Due says. “They have the skills and personality that would make them fit perfectly within your company. But, once you start working with them on a daily basis, you realize the truth. They’re not the ideal candidate for which you were looking.”

It’ll take some time to find people who are (a) qualified and (b) willing to take a risk on your new company, but once you find those people, you’ll discover that your future is much brighter.

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