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Recruiting top talent can be daunting for startups due to the fierce competition from larger companies. To attract top talent and remain competitive with the little resources they have, startups must be innovative. This is where hiring strategies come into play.

Hiring strategies for startups focus on attracting and engaging potential talent to build a robust candidate pool and make successful hires. These strategies involve techniques like employer branding, content marketing, and leveraging technology for candidate engagement. 

The aim is to position your startup as an attractive workplace and to entice top candidates to join and contribute to its early-stage growth and success.

Below, we explore five hiring strategies that can help startups attract the best candidates.

1. Optimize Your Website  

Ensuring your website is optimized is a vital strategy for hiring in startups. An optimized site ensures your career page is discoverable and serves as an excellent hub of information for your company. It can also help simplify the application process for candidates.

You can make your site discoverable by optimizing for SEO. Include relevant keywords in your website copy. This ensures your website appears in search engine results when potential candidates make relevant queries. 

For instance, if you’re looking for software developers, you could include keywords such as “software developers for hire in [your location]” or “software developers for startups” in your career page content. You can use keyword tools like Ahrefs and Keyword Planner to determine the best keywords to incorporate.

Your career page should also provide detailed information about your company’s mission, values, and culture. It should clearly outline the benefits that make your startup an attractive place to work to get talent to apply. 

Here is an example from the Matchbox Design Group career page:

The Matchbox Design Group careers and recruitment page.


Notice that the company emphasizes that it’s “fully remote,” therefore giving employees the “flexibility to work wherever they’re happiest.” The company also emphasizes that it “strongly supports a healthy work/life balance” which is great for employees who don’t want to deal with workplace stress every day of their lives.

If you’re looking to hire for specific positions, the page should also provide detailed descriptions of roles, responsibilities, and qualifications. See the examples below:

Matchbox role descriptions


Your career page should also feature testimonials or success stories from current employees. Including employee-generated content that can give potential candidates a view of what it’s like to work there helps.

Of course, you shouldn’t just focus on your site content. You need to make sure your website is also user-friendly. What good is your recruitment content if you don’t make it easy for candidates to apply for a job because your page doesn’t load or your navigation is confusing. 

So, keep your web design simple. Also, think holistically. Don’t use animation that might work for some but might not work for others. For instance, animation that sees the screen automatically scrolling up for candidates to fill out empty fields may look good, but it may not work for candidates who use older browsers.

Also, minimize the number of application form fields candidates need to fill out. Successful SaaS marketing strategies see their forms limited to four fields so they can increase conversions by up to 160%. If you do the same in your site application process, you can increase the number of people completing your forms and applying for the job. 

Finally, don’t make applicants re-enter application data. There’s nothing more frustrating than having to fill out a field with data you already gave in the early stages of the application process.  

2. Build And Manage A Talent Pool

Creating and overseeing a talent pool is a crucial strategy for hiring in startups. It entails actively identifying and nurturing potential candidates, often before specific positions are open. This ensures a ready pool of qualified individuals who might already be interested in the company.

There are several sources of talent for your pool. These include:

  • Your already-sourced candidates who don’t fit any of your current open roles
  • Candidates who access your career page but see no opening for them just yet
  • Unsuccessful candidates for an open role
  • Internal employees
  • Former employees

Once you have your talent pool, nurture your relationships with them so you remain top of mind as their potential employer. Even if many of them are not affiliated with your startup at the moment, send them emails with content that’s relevant to them. You can send them industry updates, for example. Or why not keep them informed about company developments? You can even invite them to relevant company events. We’ll talk more about recruitment events later. 

Startups like you can utilize recruitment software like a Candidate Relationship Management (CRM) system to build and manage their talent pool. This system allows you to segment candidates based on skills, experience, and interests. The tool can also help you consistently engage and nurture your talent pool while guiding them along the recruitment funnel.


So, once a position opens up, you’ll have a ready candidate to tap into, saving you time and resources. 

3. Showcase Your Brand On Social Media

Showcasing your brand on social media is another effective strategy for hiring in startups. It provides a dynamic platform to highlight the company’s culture, values, and work environment, creating an appealing narrative for potential candidates.

However, you need to identify the platforms most relevant to your target audience before you can utilize social media. LinkedIn is a primary platform for professional networking, but social media channels like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter are also effective. It helps to look at your historical recruitment data to determine the best social platform for you. You can also ask potential employees directly which social platforms they prefer.

Once you find the ideal platforms, you must maintain a consistent brand image across all social channels. This helps create a strong and recognizable employer brand. That’s important because a whopping 75% of jobseekers will consider the employer brand of a company before applying for a position.

An example of BambooHR posting a job opening on social media.


Another example of BambooHR posting job openings on social media.


These are two social media posts from BambooHR. The first was published on Facebook, the second on LinkedIn. Even if the two posts are about different recruitment-related topics and were published on two different social platforms, one look, and you can tell they come from the same brand. This is due to the consistency in visuals and tone. 

But it’s not enough for you to ensure brand consistency across social platforms. Startups must also be active on social media.This will help ensure they remain in the minds of candidates as a potential employer. So, develop a content calendar and posting schedule.  

An Instagram post from CareerBuddy advertising a job opening.


Apart from recent job opportunities like the one above, you can post company news, content announcing your job fair, or even just content that will give target candidates a glimpse of the company culture. These can include posts of your team outings, office life, employee stories, and employee events, like our BambooHR example above.

Your social media marketing strategy should also include actively engaging with your followers by responding to comments and participating in industry discussions. Building a genuine online community can also attract passive candidates.

4. Establish An Employee Referral Program

An employee referral program is a smart way to find new hires for startups. It gives your current team the opportunity to help in the hiring process by recommending people they know for open positions. This not only makes hiring faster but also helps startups find candidates who are a good fit for the company’s culture.

For the referral program to be effective, startups need to establish clear guidelines. They should also define the type of roles they’re looking to fill, the qualifications needed, and any specific skills or experiences that are desirable. This ensures that employees understand the expectations and target the ideal candidates who are more likely to perform the job well if hired.

To motivate employees to participate actively in the referral program, startups can offer enticing incentives. These incentives could be monetary rewards. The startup below, for instance, offers a monetary reward of up to $1000. Other rewards for your employee referral program include extra time off or even an all-expenses paid vacation.

The key is to make the rewards attractive enough to encourage employees to refer quality candidates.

A graphic advertising a $100 offer to refer a potential candidate.


It is also crucial to maintain the effectiveness of the referral program. This can be achieved by streamlining the referral process. In our example above, for instance, all employees need to do is send the name of the referred to the company via email. 

Encouraging employee referrals saves you time spent on recruitment. Companies using employee referral programs can fill jobs 55% faster than companies that don’t use them. With referral programs, you can also recruit employees who are likely to remain in your startup for a longer period due to their pre-existing connections with your current staff. No wonder referred employees are 25% more profitable than employees hired from other sources.

5. Host Recruitment Events

Holding recruitment events is another great way for startups to find new talent. These events let potential hires see what your company is all about and give you a chance to show off what makes your startup special.

You can hold everything from job fairs to open house events and other activities for socializing. Rapid7, for instance, holds free handlebar classes for recent graduates. After the class, the graduates get to meet existing members of the Rapid7 team:

An advertisement for a recruitment event


You’ll need to have clear goals in mind for your recruitment event. Ask yourself the types of candidates you’d like to attract. The kinds of employees you want should, in large part, determine your event. For instance, if you’re a tech startup that wants to recruit more talented programmers to your team, you might hold a networking event with your best company programmers or an open house of your IT department.

Once you’ve determined the best recruitment event for your target candidates, promote it on social media platforms, industry forums, and job boards. As I said earlier, you might even want to send email invitations to specific people in your talent pipeline.

Whichever the nature of your event, your goal is to position your startup as the best employer in the industry. So, flaunt the benefits your current employees enjoy. Show potential hires your vibrant company culture and teamwork.

Hosting events allows you to recreate that pleasant environment prospective candidates can experience once they become members of your team. It also helps you reinforce your startup’s commitment to professional development. In other words, don’t miss out.


Startups often face unique challenges when it comes to recruitment, such as limited resources and competition with larger companies. However, with the right approach, they can overcome these hurdles.

In this article, you learned five hiring strategies for startups. To attract the best candidates, startups should optimize their website, build and manage a talent pool, showcase their brand on social media, and establish an employee referral program. Hosting frequent recruitment events also helps.

By implementing these strategies, finding and attracting top talent for your startup’s growth might just become a walk in the park.

Author Bio

Owen Jones is the Senior Content Marketer at ZoomShift, an online schedule maker app. He is an experienced SaaS marketer, specializing in content marketing, CRO, and FB advertising. He likes to share his knowledge with others to help them increase results.