How to attract and retain top talent to a company with no track record

Talent is one of the most important, and heftiest, investments for start-ups. But start-ups often struggle to attract top talent to their team because of their lack of demonstrated success.


Recruitment specialist Julie Seletto says founders need to think outside the obvious channels to bring the best people to their team.


“For your first few hires, you need to take the time to find the best possible people. Don’t necessarily go through Seek or the standard options,” Seletto says.


“Go through your own networks, on LinkedIn and via recruiters to find strong, entrepreneurial sales people at the top of their game, as these people are rarely looking for jobs.”


She shares her top three tips with StartupSmart.


Have a clear vision and sell the story


Seletto says the most compelling and important thing start-ups can do to attract the kind of talent they need is excite people by having a clear vision.


“You’ve got to sell a story to your employees because if you’re building from nothing it’s all you’ve got. You don’t have the brand or turnover, so you need to excited them with a vision,” Seletto says.


She adds being able to articulate the vision for the next few months as well as up to five years or beyond will enable your potential employees to see themselves in your story.


Build your own brand


Another way to overcome the new business equals no credibility issue is to develop your own reputation and brand.


“Because the business is new, you’re selling and attracting people to yourselves rather than the business,” Seletto says.


Attending and hosting industry events, speaking at conferences, obtaining strong recommendations on LinkedIn and developing your social media followings are all tactics start-up founders can use to create a personal track record that’s discoverable online.


“Anyone worth hiring will use Google and social media to check you and your credibility out, so get out there and start developing your online presence so you’re able to show you’re worth joining and likely to be successful,” Seletto says.


Leverage your small size and fresh approach

As a capital constrained start-up, you probably won’t be able to offer top rates so founders need to get creative about what they can offer instead.


Seletto says as a small business, you have the capacity to individualise your employment offer around each new team member.


“You can partly overcome the challenge of attracting leading talent by having flexible offerings and structures of salaries,” Seletto says. “Look into offering additional leave, the opportunity to work from home, as well as incentives such as equity, profit share or vouchers.”


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