When I was recruited for my current role, I was approached at a hackathon where I was pitching my own idea for a new startup. (Previously, I’d created and grown a different startup.) Having this background, it might seem strange that I then was interested in going to work with another entrepreneur. But I was so surprised to be approached at the hackathon and loved the idea of the company, so I was intrigued.
My story illustrates that, as a startup founder, you don’t have to go to recruiters or job sites to find top tech talent. Most likely, you won’t find them there anyway. Instead, you have to get creative to uncover today’s best talent, including those individuals that have the potential and passion help launch and grow your company.
Besides the hackathons where I met my current employer, there are other places I can think of to uncover today’s best tech talent. It’s not LinkedIn, traditional job board sites, or even recruiters. Millennial IT talent is not hunting down their dream job in those places.
I have used sites like GitHub and Toptal to locate freelance and outsource IT staff — some of these hires have even turned into full-time team members. I like these sites because it is an efficient way to locate a wide range of technical talent. Plus, they can be located anywhere in the world and willing to work for very competitive rates, which is great for a startup on a limited budget.
As an entrepreneur, I also like to mentor students majoring in technology. Not only do I enjoy giving my free time to students that remind me of myself, but this is also an ideal way to identify undeveloped talent that can be shaped into future team members. They enjoy the opportunity to work on projects in an intern role and I get additional help, where necessary.
Best Practices For Attracting Talent
Entrepreneurs may know what they are doing with their business idea, but they may not be experienced when it comes to creating the best job descriptions or qualifying candidates for positions that involve things like mobile apps, developer skills, e-commerce websites and online payment systems. Worse still is when an entrepreneur is not technically oriented but needs to select IT talent.
Utilize existing online job descriptions for technical positions as your model for writing about the jobs you will have available in order to get the technical language correct. Be sure to look at a few different descriptions for the same job and then combine these into one that fits what you are seeking. Your online research can also help you understand what the current rate of pay is for these roles. Since you’re running a startup, you may also look at other options, such as a reduced rate, a share in the company, or even internships and freelancers.
When you do think you have found some candidates, it helps to bring in a mentor, colleague, or even co-founder that has the technical background to help you get through a vetting process. It’s alright to hand this over to someone willing to assist because their knowledge and experience can pinpoint the appropriate candidate.
Research these differences and even take the time to go and talk to tech talent at networking events, conferences, and other places where you can have a relaxed conversation. You can ask them what it is that they are looking for in a company and what it is that they seek from a job that gets them excited.
Always look for potential candidates and keep contacts up to date because you never know when you will need IT assistance as you build out your startup. Personally, I keep a database of contacts that I can call on for special projects or new job openings. This way I have a steady stream of potential talent available when I can add them to the team.
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