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Recruiting for Startups: 11 Strategies On How to Hire Top Talent

Discover 11 effective strategies tailored specifically for startups to attract and hire top talent. From leveraging networking opportunities to optimizing job postings, explore proven tactics to build a strong and dynamic team for your startup's success.


Most startups put a lot of effort into building the right product and raising funds, but they tend to underestimate the rigor of recruitment. 

Sahil Lavingia, the CEO of Gumroad, one of the fastest-growing startups, tweeted: 


Founders and recruitment managers have to attract top talents with a smaller budget, less popularity, and stability than giant companies. 

That’s a tough task! 

Since talent is a limited resource that businesses are fighting for, startups can only reach top talent if they are strategic. 

The right hiring strategies can make potential candidates see your vision and invest their time, effort, and energy to see your business grow. Since the cost of bad hires for a startup can sink the entire organization, you need to get it right. 

This is why we've drafted 11 strategies to reduce the rigor of hiring and serve as a roadmap for attracting top talent.  

Let's get right into it!  

How do you recruit a team for a startup? 11 strategies to boost success 

Startups are only as successful as the quality of the people who work there. These strategies will guide hiring optimistic individuals with the right attitude and skills for your startup. 

1. Tap into global hiring opportunities 

A study by Korn Ferry shows that by 2030, there will be severe talent shortages in the United States, Russia, China, Japan, Indonesia, and Brazil. If you're going to overcome this situation as a startup, you should consider hiring outside your current location. 

"We are seeing a focus on skills rather than location in general," said Dan Westgarth, COO at Deel. Regardless of where people live and their different backgrounds in this post-pandemic market, you can get employees to work towards a singular goal to scale your startup. 

Here are some tips on how to make the most of global hiring: 

  • Target emerging talent hubs that fit your time zone, budget, and required experience working with global teams
  • Adapt your management style to suit diverse cultures, preferences, and uniqueness to build unity 
  • Identify problem solvers that are eager to get the job done while accelerating their professional career 
  • Pay attention to the details of your employee's payroll processing to avoid errors 
  • Level the playing field for everyone to get integrated into the system easily

2. Consider hiring contractors and freelancers 

The cost of hiring a new employee is 1.25 to 1.4 times the salary, based on mandatory extra costs. While trying to scale your business, the total cost might be too much on your limited budget. 

With independent contractors and freelancers, you can hire more flexibly based on specific projects to meet your demands. While accessing your deliverables, you still find a cost-effective way to avoid spending on taxes, office space, training, and upskilling. 

Manage your independent contractors and freelancers better with these steps: 

  • Identify the criteria you'll use to determine the qualifications of a contractor 
  • Draft an independent contractor or freelancer agreement that outlines your relationship and the job responsibilities 
  • Give freelancers a specific timeframe for handling their invoices to avoid keeping them waiting 
  • Provide flexibility for them to choose a preferred payment method and currency 
  • Create a structure to track the progress of external contractors without micromanaging to ensure they are meeting your expectations 

3. Make your company attractive through employee branding  


Your ideal candidates can find details about your company's representation within a few searches. When they finish searching, you want them to be impressed and excited to work with you. That's the role of employer branding. 

Employer branding is as much a retention strategy in keeping great talent as it is an attraction strategy in hiring great candidates." - Riley Stefano, Global Lead, Employee Brand Marketing at Datadog. 

Since both attraction and retention are results startups need, employer branding is simply a necessity. Telling a unique and authentic story about your startup is a way to stand out in the noisy digital world where we live. 

Here are some ways to attract your best candidates through employer branding: 

  • Adopt a culture of transparency within your organization, especially with salary and benefits 
  • Invest in portraying your company's reputation in communities, industry events, and social media 
  • Encourage your employees to share their experience working at your startup 
  • Prioritize candidates with a personal brand so you can leverage their existing network to build teams 
  • Create an immersive experience for candidates with a customizable career portal using the all-in-one solution, Kula ATS. 

4. Draft engaging job descriptions that portray company culture 

A job description is an opportunity to get personal with your candidates. But most of the time, startups approach job ads generically and lazily catch nobody's attention. 

You get to spark curiosity in the minds of your readers through your job descriptions and compel them to apply. Recruiters should write job descriptions to attract candidates and not scare them off with an unending list of requirements. 

An example of a catchy job description is from Medium

Use these tips as a guide when drafting job descriptions to make them compelling: 

  • Add specific keywords that are relevant to the job to help candidates scan the content easily 
  • Show a glimpse of your company culture and key differentiators as a workplace in the job ad 
  • Adopt a friendly and chatty tone to evoke emotions in your potential candidates 
  • Avoid using biased language and terms in your job descriptions 
  • Ask other employees why they love working at your startup and include their ideas in the job descriptions 
  • Generate a draft for your job description using Kula AI. 

5. Encourage your team members to network better 

Your next great hire could lurk in your team member's network, and you need them to spread the word about vacant positions. Passive candidate sourcing should be everyone's job to ensure its effectiveness.

Even founders significantly reach potential candidates based on their relationships with friends and past colleagues. 

Here are some effective techniques to extend your company's network: 

  • Hold referral farming sessions with your team by scanning through their social network for potential hires 
  • Provide incentives to encourage the participation of your existing employees in reaching candidates 
  • Extend your existing network by joining industry-specific communities to enhance candidate sourcing 
  • Sponsor your team members to startup community meetups, conferences, and events to build solid networks 
  • Leverage the referral management feature on Kula ATS to allow employees to monitor the progress of their referrals easily 

6. Make your hiring efforts more deliberate 


Hire for the attitude, train for the skills. This mantra aligns with what Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI, said in his tweet. Startups need optimistic employees ready to take on challenges and adapt quickly to change. 

Accessing each candidate's values first, followed by their attitude and skills, can give you an introspective view of how well they fit into the startup culture. 

Be deliberate about your startup hiring efforts with these tips: 

  • Avoid recruiting any candidate who speaks badly about previous employers or colleagues 
  • Draft pre-interview assignments to gauge the candidate's willingness to go the extra mile 
  • Conduct behavioral interviews to see how a candidate will approach challenging situations 
  • Create a dedicated candidate portal using Kula ATS to improve the candidate experience 
  • Target candidates from vulnerable companies who are experiencing layoffs 

7. Consider college recruiting outreaches to reach fresh candidates 

Interns and fresh graduates usually look for big brand names to beef up their resumes. That's one area where startups are still struggling. 

However, ignoring the long-term potential of college recruiting outreaches can make your organization miss out on fresh candidates. 

How do you go about college recruiting efforts? 

  • Choose a local university with a reputable program that builds skills your startup needs
  • Consider visiting the Alma mater of your team members to get extra leverage
  • Identify the super-connectors on campus and build a relationship with them to find the best candidates 
  • Emphasize the amount of impact an intern can make in a smaller company and the opportunity to grow 
  • Work around the schedule of your college candidates to stand out among their numerous offers 

8. Invest in recruitment technology

Startups need to invest more in recruitment technology than other organizations because they have fewer resources. The ideal recruitment software for your startup must be user-friendly and fully automated to help you focus on what matters.

94% of hiring professionals say that using recruitment software has impacted their hiring process positively. With hiring software like Kula ATS, startups can prevent trial and error in their efforts to recruit with greater confidence.

See this customer review about Kula from G2

Here are some powerful benefits of Kula ATS that are useful for your startup: 

  • Automate job posting and updates to prevent time wastage 
  • Evaluate candidates faster based on predefined criteria using automated candidate scoring 
  • Optimize workflows for success using drag-and-drop features 
  • Capture interview conversations and automate the feedback loop using AI-powered note-taker 
  • Access a dedicated support team eager to meet your unique needs 

9. Partner with recruitment agencies 

Research shows that having access to a diverse talent pool increases success rate by 58% compared to in-house recruitment. Startups that partner with recruitment agencies can expand their talent pool faster. 

Working with an agency can help you make the right pay decisions, comply with labor regulations, and reduce your employees' workloads. However, your startup and the agency you choose must communicate clearly to integrate your company culture into the recruitment processes.  

Here are some factors to consider when partnering with an agency: 

  • Estimate the cost of a recruitment agency to see if your startup can afford it yet 
  • Draft a proper agreement between the external recruiter and your organization with clear expectations 
  • Create a consistent communication structure so you can be involved in the hiring process 
  • Decide if you only want the agency to handle some parts of the process to retain some level of control 

10. Use multiple recruitment channels to reach talent 

LinkedIn, Github, Indeed, Craigslist. Mixing these different recruitment channels helps you access a diverse pool of talents and speeds up the hiring process. 

Reaching your ideal candidates where they spend most of their time actively and passively searching for jobs gives you an edge. Using multiple channels increases the number of people applying to your organization and drives brand awareness for your startup. 

Using Kula's applicant tracking system helps streamline your outreach efforts and provides detailed reports on each source. It also integrates easily with the LinkedIn Recruiter System. 

11. Prioritize workplace benefits and compensation 

If you're considering offering your early employees equity as their benefit, you should remember that equity cannot pay the bills. Everyone knows that running a startup is volatile, and gaining equity is a deferred reward that some startups use as an excuse to underpay employees. 

How do you tailor workplace benefits with a limited budget? 

  • Personalize a candidate's work benefits by asking them 
  • Offer stock options for early employees while paying them good salary options 
  • Compensate employees with mental health sessions and restaurant vouchers 
  • Ensure workers access flexible work options based on the level of physical presence required for their role
  • Provide modest benefits at first and make it more comprehensive as the company attains greater profitability 

Make your startup a hot destination for talents using hiring strategies 

If hiring for startups was easy, most recruiters and founders would have gotten it right. But with these hiring strategies, you can make better decisions, work within your budget, and attract candidates who will buy into your vision.  

But you can take it further by using Kula ATS to hire top talents confidently and save time on repetitive tasks. With Kula ATS, you can connect with candidates on a deeper level and communicate your brand vision better. 

Book a demo today to put hiring on autopilot. 

Sandra Rachel Oommen

Content Marketer

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