Entrepreneurs are filled with dreams and ideas about how to radically disrupt the world in the most positive ways. To get their dreams off the ground, they do the legwork of signing on investors interested in partnering with them on what they feel is a revolutionary plan. Once funds are secured and the documents are in place, getting the startup off the ground and getting the wheels rolling is vital before further dreams of success can manifest. But how does one engage enough of an interested and experienced audience to lure them to and well them on a dream behind the startup’s existence?

First and foremost, a startup requires a team of quality people who will buy into the young company’s vision and help to propel it into a successful endeavor. But hiring for startups comes with several immediate challenges. Startup founders quickly realize that the hiring process is much different than it would be for an established firm. So how does a new business navigate the proverbial Strait of Magellan of hiring quality candidates for their startup?

Selling The Vision

Entrepreneur sharing business vision with startup team
Group of coworkers having meeting and discussing about business goals

When it comes to competing with established companies and brands, a startup will simply not be able to hang with the salary offerings, benefits, and job security of an established counterpart. Therefore a startup must leverage their most prized selling point: the company’s vision.

A well-crafted job posting can attract the attention of candidates who, for their own reasons, may be fed up with working for a big corporation or long-established business that has perhaps forgotten that it is their workforce who has led them to their prominence and is less concerned about having a group of happy employees working for them. Some may feel that their skills are being underutilized. Others will simply be seeking something more personally and professionally fulfilling.

A startup may offer these candidates the exact thing they are looking for. That vision, paired with the prospect of a role they can play as a bigger fish in a small pond, could be very enticing for many candidates including very qualified ones. They may even be willing to take an initial pay cut for additional opportunities and responsibilities.

Filling The Essential Positions

Entrepreneur meeting with startup team
College students discussing new subject at the desk at university

The staff of a startup will be small relative to a big firm, so there is not a lot of room for wildly specific job responsibilities. While bigger firms are looking to fill specific business niches within their company, these positions can often become stifling and restrictive. By contrast, a startup should be looking for candidates that can wear multiple hats. For this reason, the interviewing process for a startup will differ from one of an established company.

While it is important to interview more qualified candidates to find the necessary skill sets, the candidates sought after by a startup should be those who are willing and capable of “wearing many hats” in terms of their responsibilities. However, that alone is not enough.

An initially small team of people will need to work closely with each other, as well as multiple new hires, so it is important to look for staff members that can collaborate easily with their coworkers, as well as incoming staff. For these social aspects, it is often a good idea to interview candidates in small groups, rather than in a one on one setting. Prompting a team-based dynamic from the onset will help to spur close working relationships and not only attract candidates, but also make them want to stay for the fulfilling social aspects.

Offer Perks Big Companies May Not Be

Newly hired startup employee working from home
Newly hired startup employee working from home

While a startup’s budget will offer nowhere near the financial flexibility of a big branded mainstay in terms of salaries, it doesn’t mean there are no perks that prospective recruits cannot be sold on. Giving talented employees reasons to choose a startup over more of a “safe-bet” employment venture can be challenging, but flexibility often means more to people than the money.

The flexibility of working hours, work from home options, setting their own schedule (job permitting), and presenting a friendly non-corporate atmosphere are intangibles that will sell many candidates on wanting to work for a startup. If the shift to home-based work proved anything during the ongoing pandemic it’s that in many ways, being able to work from home more is not only effective, it is a money-saving technique that might rival most annual raises. Transportation costs, gas, and investments in food drop dramatically. Depending on the nature of the job, the expenses of certain forms of child care can drop off entirely (such as aftercare for young school kids who are now able to come home right after school).

Yes, startups are at the starting line while big-time companies have been running the race for decades, but that doesn’t mean their team will be empty. By understanding the startup’s position and bargaining power, playing to the available strengths can secure a startup a highly successful, experienced, hard working team that can one day spawn the little startup into one of the big ventures they dream of being.

What other tips do you have for hiring a startup team? Let us know down in the comments.

This article originally published on GREY Journal.