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Hiring tech talent: 7 tips for startups

Hiring the right talent is a key element to any startup’s success story. With a thriving tech sector and several globally renowned universities in the city, Amsterdam has no shortage of talented professionals and students that can help take your company to the next level.

Entrepreneurs seeking startup talent to help grow and scale their companies have access to a pool of top tech candidates in the Amsterdam Area. But wherever you are based – in the Netherlands, elsewhere in Europe or on another continent – and wherever you are looking for new talent, you can make your recruitment process more effective, efficient and enjoyable. These hiring tips for startups can help.

1. Know what your startup is all about

The ancient Greeks may have first said it, but the maxim applies equally to your company today: know thyself. If you have reached this article, you already know you want to hire new talent for your startup. However, before turning outwards to interview, ensure you understand what makes your startup unique. Solidify short-, medium- and long-term business visions, even with the knowledge that they will need revisions. Be able to articulate and demonstrate the company culture. A thorough self-understanding better positions you to attract and retain the best fit-for-purpose candidates who also possess self-knowledge.

2. Consider passive candidates too

Once upon a time, recruiting new talent required interviewing candidates who eagerly submitted CVs and, if lucky to reach the next round, showed up to give you a firm handshake. Nowadays top candidates for tech and startup jobs may not even be on the market. In fact, many are already happily employed and not looking to move. For that reason, reimagine your sources for new hires and seriously consider so-called passive candidates. If in daily work or life, you encounter someone who seems like an ideal fit or whom you can imagine playing a pivotal role in your business, recruit!

3. Encourage open applications

Sometimes you know exactly what position you need to fill when. But many times, tech talent and people who thrive in startup culture are multi-skilled and quick to learn. Therefore, encourage open applications. Invite individuals who are genuinely engaged with your company to share their CV and a note about what they would like to do if given the chance to work with you. Although you may not currently have an opening, having a file of true fans can give you valuable ideas for ways to grow your company and save time when you are ready to hire.

4. Focus on skills above all

By now we know that excelling in the tech industry is not determined by degrees or diplomas. Plus, many companies now offer on-the-job learning, access to courses that certify staff in relevant competencies or programmes and easy-to-tap knowledge and advice from their own colleagues and project teammates. So when hiring talent for your startup, focus on an individual’s skills and capacity for acquiring new skills above all else. Take cues from their past experiences and successes rather than what schools they have, or have not, gone to.   

5. Offer non-monetary compensation too

Good salaries attract good talent. However, as a startup or a scaling SME, you might not yet be able to offer Silicon Valley-level paycheques. But in this day and age, candidates want to be fairly compensated in non-monetary ways too. In the wake of pandemic-imposed lockdowns and, for many people, recalibrated life values, you can offer recruits perks that cost no extra overhead and make staff happier and likelier to stay. Examples include remote working, being on the clock at hours that are personally most convenient (so long as the work gets done) and – woof! – welcoming pets to the office.

6. Look globally to fulfil locally

As the COVID-19 crisis has also proved, a lot can still be accomplished when we do not work together in person. Also, collaboration can take place across cities, countries and continents. Even if your startup focuses on local business needs, for more universal roles that can be fulfilled from anywhere (think: accounting, translation or web design) consider the rest of the world as a potential talent pool. Virtual job fairs and startup and tech events – many of which are on offer in the Amsterdam Area – provide valuable opportunities to recruit high-tech talent and startup talents who can meaningfully contribute from afar.

7. Make your hiring process inspirational

If your website is now your calling card, your recruitment strategy is your mission, vision and strategy come to life. No matter how far you go in the hiring process with a candidate – whether it is one email exchange, a final interview or an actual hire – ensure it reflects your company’s culture and values. Equip all your colleagues, not just HR, with guidelines on how to help applicants get an accurate impression of where they may potentially work. And let them feel inspired when exploring that possibility even if you or they end up passing on the otherwise memorable offer.