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How to attract the best talent to your startup?

Are you a startup looking for new talent? Do you want to tap into the creativity and innovation available in the talent market? Do you want to take your business to the next level with the leaders of tomorrow? If so, I want to let you in on a secret…

If you want the best people working with you, you need to do a whole lot more than simply publish a fancy-looking recruitment ad. It starts right from day one, long before you even have the financial means to be hiring.

What excites the best minds in the market?

A compelling vision and a meaningful mission. You’re doing a better job than your competitors? Who cares? They certainly don’t. Your future employees do not want to get better at replicating others; they want to innovate and break the rules. They want to join inspirational leaders who are changing the world. If your startup centers around this, and if you are a great leader, you automatically become a magnet for the talented people you are longing for.

So, that all sounds great, but how are you tackling this hot topic?

Having accompanied startups in their expansion for seven years, I am happy to share seven lessons I have learned about how to attract the best talent.

1 – Position yourself as a thought leader

You, the founders, matter. You embody your startups. Position yourself as a thought leader. Contribute and share your startup voice whenever it is relevant. Share valuable content on your site and blog, as well as on relevant sites and social media. Share your story, your successes and your failures, which tell so much about who you are. Make yourself visible: network and speak at relevant conferences to share your vision. These are valuable opportunities to be heard, raise interest and ultimately, inspire talented individuals to join you.

2 – Dare greatly

Just do it! In case some naughty inner voice tells you, “This is ridiculous, you are too young, too small, too inexperienced, how can you possibly make an impact?” please consider this Anita Roddick quote that I love: “If you think you’re too small to make a difference, you’ve never been to bed with a mosquito.” I personally know very young entrepreneurs who dare greatly. And they happen to be successful recruiters too.

3 – Build a strong brand

Build a strong brand for your startup from day one. Lots of good candidates want to be associated with a reputable brand. Associate your brand with a remarkable value proposition to stand out from the crowd while building your visibility and credibility. Deliver what you promise, and deliver it with the highest quality standards. And let the market know! Feedback from your clients, partners and/or investors is essential as they are your main ambassadors.

4 – Build a great place to work.

Build a great place to work. In the early days, top talents don’t come to you because of the financial package you can offer – they know you can’t. So, go for what a big company cannot offer: autonomy, flexibility, global picture, professional growth, and … a sense of adventure. Candidates are ready to commit and invest significant time and effort, provided that 1) you offer them a meaningful position, and create space for them to reach their potential, and 2) you empower them and make sure they have enough room to significantly contribute to your company’s success. In a nutshell, do not create too tight a job description! As leaders, you only build effective teams by developing individual talents.

5 – Hire people who are different and smarter

To do so, be bold and humble: be ready to hire people who are different and smarter than you! This is the price for making your startup successful. The price is often high for startup founders who grow their company as their own “baby.” Since a growing child’s needs will evolve until they ultimately leave the nest, parents need to adapt to each and every step, from caring to empowering to trusting and letting go. Well, when it comes to your startup, a rapidly growing and changing organization, you will consistently alter your focus over time, from development and sales, to operational efficiency, to market expansion and restructuring for scalability. The skills required at each step may be fundamentally different to those required at the preceding one. You will not own them all. The magic of growth will only happen with a subtle combination of talents.

6 – Build an open and transparent recruitment process

Build an open and transparent recruitment process, involving your team as much as you can. According to Maddyness, 94% of candidates will google you and your staff before reaching out to you to find out more on your culture and environment.Twenty-one percent will even call your employees to get more information.

7 – Broaden the scope of your hunting playground to more remote areas

What if you can’t find your golden nuggets in Luxembourg or in the Greater Region? Broaden the scope of your hunting playground to more remote areas with higher unemployment rates and relevant first-class universities.

It all boils down to one thing: if you want to attract the best talent, you must work hard on attracting them before the job even becomes available – before you even believe it possible to take someone on. Everything is linked to the culture you infuse in your startup…right from day one.

(Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash)

This article was first published in the 8th issue of SILICON magazine. Be the first to read SILICON articles on paper before they’re posted online, plus read exclusive features and interviews that only appear in the print edition, by subscribing online.

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