10 Places to Find Ideal Candidates for Your Startup

Photo by Sebastian Herrmann on Unsplash

Finding the right people for a startup team is both crucial and extremely difficult. Not only do you have to find top-level candidates capable of both building something from scratch and getting along in your new company culture, you also have to find candidates within your limited budget. Most startups needs at least two or three hires to get off the ground, but finding those hires in the early stages of development is a challenging, to say the least.

However, if you’re looking in the right places, the whole process is much easier. If you’re in the market for energetic, talented, and affordable candidates for your startup, try looking here:

1. Job Sites. If it seems obvious, it’s because it is. Depending on what you’re looking for, posting on a small network of job sites can open you up to dozens of potential applicants. Be as specific as possible in your description and requirements to filter out the majority of job site browsers from the get go. From there, opt for phone interviews to narrow your field down to your top three.

2. Networking Events. Professional networking events are where people who want to meet people meet other people who want to meet people. Some are looking for investors, clients, or merely friends, but a significant percentage are unemployed or are employees looking for new work. Attend these events regularly to meet potential employees, or meet people who know of potential employees you can meet.

3. Volunteering. Volunteer events are great opportunities to meet startup candidates. Because they’re volunteering, you know money isn’t everything to them, you know they’re willing to work hard for a good cause, and they’re probably connected in the community. On top of that, even if you don’t meet anybody, you’ll at least be doing something productive and valuable in the meantime.

4. Community Events. Community events range from street sales to county fairs, and while it’s hard to filter out the general crowd, there are ripe opportunities to meet professionals who meet your requirements. For example, you could check out booths by other companies, head to niche events like hackathons, or just walk up to random strangers.

5. Social Media. There are dozens of ways to use social media to find viable candidates. You can look for random shared connections on Facebook and LinkedIn. You can ask for candidates on Twitter. You can search for prospects based on their current line of employment. You can even put a little money down to post an ad. Social media profiles serve as modern-day resumes, so use that transparency to your advantage.

6. College Career Fairs. You may be reluctant to hire someone right out of college, but recent college grads tend to be the most passionate, energetic, and affordable candidates in the job pool — making them perfect fits for startups. Peruse a career fair, or just get in contact with a representative from a local university. Chances are, you’ll be able to find some talent with relative ease.

7. Big Corporations. Many workers who opt to join a startup in the early stages do so because they’re fed up with the overly bureaucratic, stagnant world of traditional corporations. While direct headhunting from big companies isn’t typically advisable, you can fish for people looking for new opportunities.

8. Industry Sites and Forums. If your startup belongs to a specific niche or industry, peruse websites, blogs and forums pertaining to that industry. You’ll likely find dozens of personal brands making regular posts and an active community of followers making comments. See if any are in your area or are looking for a change in employment.

9. Internal Connections. Leverage the power of your own current personal network to find candidates. Tell everyone you know what you’re looking for in a candidate, including your friends, family, and former coworkers. Odds are, there’s at least one person who knows someone that would be interested in the job.

10. Anywhere Else You Go. Anywhere in the world can be an opportunity to find a startup candidate if there are strangers available to meet. Get in the habit of talking to people — you never know when a casual conversation might lead to a meaningful opportunity or a significant introduction.

These 10 places should produce at least a few dozen viable leads for promising startup candidates. Even though you’re likely under a lot of pressure to find someone quickly, don’t rush your decision either. Your core team will be the ones responsible for making your startup a success or a flop, so take your time to find the right candidates for your ideal environment. There’s always time to add (or subtract, if things don’t work out), but the better the team you start with, the easier time you’ll have later on.

CEO of EmailAnalytics (emailanalytics.com), a productivity tool that visualizes team email activity, and measures email response time. Check out the free trial!