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How Startups Can Attract Top Talent

Mona Berberich | December 2, 2013

 

People don’t believe when I tell my story of how I got my internship all the way from Germany. There I was, 7 months ago trying to finish up a paper for school. Fed up with writing the paper, I searched the web for cool and innovative new companies in the space that I was interested in: the intersection of career management/human resources and technology. Long story short, I found Better Weekdays, a kick-ass startup that developed a private platform that allows millennials to actively manage their careers based on WHO they are and WHAT they want to achieve….pretty good stuff. I shot them a few Facebook messages where I simply asked them to be on the team. A couple Skype sessions and an 8-hour flight later, here I am in sitting in the windy city writing this article.

To get your story told, here are a few other tips and tricks that I picked up in the past months.

Always act like you would hire tomorrow.

Every person that you meet could essentially be your next new hire, even if it’s just in a year from now. Communicating a clear picture of the company culture is key here. You should continuously talk to people and evaluate them, keep clear spreadsheets of candidates and their skills as well as positions/skills you require at this particular stage and be ready to hire (or at least interview) once you get funded. Because once that happens, there won’t be any time to do a deep dive into talent management. Make sure to manage expectations. You’re dealing with real people and real problems here, so let them know where you are at in terms of hiring and be honest!

Go to career fairs.

Again, even if you don’t hire, go out there and take advantage of the great potential candidates at career fairs! A little hint: Pick the career fairs/networking events especially for startups and entrepreneurs such as Uncubed. Plus, there are tons of networking events at the local universities you can attend. They’re free and those college kids are just looking to get their hands on startup work!

Connect with university student group leaders.

Local university websites offer all their contact info to leaders of the student organizations. Entrepreneurs Clubs have great talent, many of them are entrepreneurs themselves. Connect with them, invite them to learn more about your startup or do a Skype session and see what they’re looking for. There are plenty of things you can offer them which do not cost you a dime: Insights in product development, a day in a co-working space or simply sharing your path to entrepreneurship to get their wheels turning.

Get your job descriptions on the school job boards.

Job ads are key, so you got to make sure that they reflect your culture and don’t sound like the usual boring ones from Accenture and Co. (sorry!). You want to attract a special cohort of people and your tone and voice will make or break that goal. Another hint: Always focus on describing the company, rather than the job (because we know that that changes a lot in a startup). Even if you’re not hiring right now, as long as you clearly state when you will hire, it’s a great way of getting students’ interest. Work with them until they’re done with school and be ready to offer them something, when they’re out of school.

Target the right people.

Hang with the cool kids! Find out what kind of people/skills you’re looking for and spend time at places those kids hang out. Whether it’s innovative hacker websites, nerdy networks or awesome career management platforms, those are all great places to connect with your future top talent.

Recruit ambassadors.

One great way of early integration is to have ambassadors (just a handful) at local schools. Educate them about the product and care for them – some might want insights in product development, others a recommendation or simply see a cool startup from the inside. Having ambassadors will help you spread the word about your company/product, and will allow you to see if they’re a good fit in the long run.

Did I forget something? Make sure to tell me in the comments! I hope that my insights were helpful for you. And remember, if you need a great intern or even a full-time hire, simply signup and become a Better Weekdays customer!


About the Author

Mona Berberich, Digital Marketing Manager, Better Weekdays

Mona Berberich is a graduate from European School of Business in Germany and Northeastern University in Boston with a MSc in International Management and Strategy. Previously, Mona worked for Better Weekdays, a Chicago-based startup in the recruiting and staffing industry, where she assisted with her industry knowledge to build up the digital marketing strategy. Prior to Better Weekdays, she was the youngest member of a city council and significantly influenced two city-owned companies as a board member in Germany, where she was born and raised. Mona published several books and articles in the field of HR and talent management and has successfully established herself as a thought leader in the industry.