The coronavirus pandemic had an immediate impact on startups across the country. While some had to reevaluate their business models entirely, others flourished. Now, as the country starts to emerge from the pandemic’s grip and the “great reopening” continues, business for many startups is expanding and fast. The U.S. economy is expected to flourish in the later half of 2021, and technology startups across every industry are looking to capitalize on the moment. Venture capital funding has increased dramatically, and with it, is the need to push forward with innovation and growth.
The U.S. job market is competitive right now, as millions of Americans have reconsidered their current roles or already left jobs that no longer serve them. Startups often experience difficulty in finding tech talent to join their teams, but the current landscape could make the search especially tough this year. As founders look ahead to grow their team, there are tactics and best practices to keep in mind to win at the talent search:
Prioritize Young Talent, and Patience: An often overlooked place for talent is at the universities within the startup’s surrounding community. Eager, young talent can bring startup teams fresh perspectives, new ideas, and alternate ways of approaching problems. There is without a doubt a learning curve that arrives with the transition young talent will undergo from the classroom to the startup world, but patient teams who nurture these employees often reap the rewards. Bringing on young talent as interns will provide the youthful energy and new ideas many tech companies are in need of, while allowing teams to truly get to know students and how they’d adapt to full time positions. Hiring teams can work with departmental staff at colleges and universities who are managing the undergraduate and graduate programs and receive their recommendations on which students would thrive in their company culture and area of work. The patience in working with young talent allows startups to build their teams from the ground up, instilling best practices and focused expertise related to the business for long term success.
Don’t Disregard the Impact Recruiters & Advertising Can Have: In the current competitive landscape for talent across all sectors, the investment in promoting open opportunities and the work of the startup is well worth considering. Recruiters and consulting firms can open the candidate pool vastly. As startups reconsider their physical locations, lifts on regional parameters can begin to bring in additional candidates that may have been previously overlooked.
Beyond recruiting firms, putting dollars behind promoting research projects and your website’s SEO ranking through regular press releases and updated content can not only attract new individual talent but larger collaborators as well. Taking out print or digital ads in key industry trade publications also places your startup in front of the right audiences.
Promoting your work and open positions aren’t limited to the likes of LinkedIn. Tools such as Google Scholar and IEEE’s digital engineer resource can put a startup’s project in front of an entirely new audience that otherwise may not have known about the company. Even postings on Craigslist have proved successful for more scrappy approaches to hiring.
Good Old Fashion Networking is Key to Expanding the Talent Pool: As a startup founder, building out a personal network is an important part of growing and sustaining a business. Aside from hiring, a strong personal network can bring new business opportunities and connections that likely wouldn’t have been possible without a personal introduction. Through these connections, new talent options are often made possible and they usually arrive with strong recommendations and references that can be missing from inbound hiring inquiries. Many founders will often start within their immediate network of friends, family, and close colleagues. From this immediate circle, continuing to build out and maintain your network will allow for future connections as hiring talent extends to executive level positions and the C-suite. When in doubt on how to expand further, look to identify those who are great at networking. One can expand their network rapidly by reaching out to the most connected folks. Building and maintaining your connections is an invaluable tool when the time and attention is placed on growing your circle.
With opportunities to grow startups at unprecedented rates, the competitive job market should not deter your efforts in finding the right tech talent to further fuel and support your business. Founders can lean on eager, young talent to join them at the ground level while investing in recruiters and unique advertising opportunities to find niche experience or effective level talent. The immediate network of a founder and their team will always be an invaluable resource, and those who put an emphasis on it will have a talent pipeline to pull from.
Brad Paden is a co-founder of high-tech incubator LaunchPoint Technologies, and an Advisory Board Member at Seismic Capital, an early-stage growth investor. He is currently working in electric flight co-founder and Chief Scientist of LaunchPoint Electric Propulsion Solutions. He is a Fellow of IEEE and ASME and an emeritus professor at UCSB.