attract top talent

How Startups Can Differentiate Themselves to Attract Top Talent

In order to attract top talent, startups need to analyze all parts of the hiring process. Do you know how to show candidates that your company is truly an exceptional place to work? Do you know how to differentiate yourself from competing offers? At our recent HR Quarterly event, we discussed this topic in depth with industry leaders:

  • Angela Mekosh (Talent Acquisition Manager at Taboola)
  • Sally Bolig (Head of Talent Acquisition at Yotpo)
  • Liz Tran (VP of Portfolio Talent at Thrive Capital)

Here are the top five things they suggested startups can do to differentiate themselves: 

1. Cultivate a great company culture.

Angela Mekosh says, “It’s the people and the culture.” She says that if you look at data about why people accept jobs, it’s largely about the opportunity that you’re giving someone to grow and learn valuable skills. People want to get to the next stage of their career, and they may not be able to do that at their current job. And another big part of whether the candidate wants to work with you every day: Do they feel like you are going to support them?

2. Involve everyone in the hiring process.

Sally Bolig emphasizes that hiring is everyone’s responsibility. She says, “Everybody is part of the interview process. A really positive candidate experience starts at the very beginning.“ It’s not just the hiring manager or recruiter—it’s the person who greets the candidate when they come into the office, the person who offers them a refreshment. Do something to show candidates you’re decent people they would enjoy working with.

It’s also important to be genuine and transparent. Employees who interact with candidates should be honest when they ask hard questions that don’t have the nicest answers. People appreciate that. They understand they’re coming into an organization where people will be honest with them. Then nobody signs up for something they weren’t expecting.

3. Personalize job offers.

Liz Tran says that when you make an offer, shower them with love. Get every single person who interviewed them to send an email. Send them a gift basket that will arrive the day you make a verbal an offer. The basket should be personalized with things they like. If the recruit is a Yankees fan, maybe there’s beer and Yankees koozie.

You should be closing all the way. Get to know them. Go to dinner with their partner or someone else who will be influencing their decision. This shows you care about their life outside of work and that goes a long way.

4. Make a fair offer at the outset of negotiations.

Tran: When you deliver an offer, make sure it’s fair. Going in with a low offer in case the person negotiates sets a bad precedent for a lack of transparency. By making a good offer, you show the person they are valuable to your organization. You should also explain their equity, perks, benefits, and additional equity grants they can receive in the future. That helps paint a picture of where their career can go.

5. Stay organized and responsive during the hiring process.

Tran says, “It’s so rare when a startup is super organized and they respond right away. It’s a huge differentiator.”

She recommends responding promptly to candidates: ideally within one or two days after an interview.
When recruiting, be relentless. She recommends that startups identify 40 people you really want to work at your company. Then, “just keep sending emails with attachments and make them funny and tailor them to that person’s journey and story and say “this is where your career is headed. This is where it’s going to take you.” And be relentless, because it’s really hard.”

Watch the full video here.

James Meincke

James is the Head of Marketing @ Demodesk, the intelligent meeting platform for remote sales. Previously he was the Director of Marketing at CloserIQ.