8
 min read

4 Ways to source the best startup talent

This is a guest blog on startup recruitment from the experts at ISL Recruitment, a trusted UK recruitment consultancy.

September 29, 2020
Róisín Phelan
January 13, 2022
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Are you looking to grow your startup?

Finding and attracting the best startup talent can feel daunting. But with the right plans in place, you will find that you are making valuable hires as you scale.

From making the most out of your network to building a strong brand online, here are 4 ways to go about sourcing startup talent.

Attend Networking events

It will come as no surprise to you that one of the best ways to source startup talent is to go out and meet people.

Whether this is in-person or virtual, talking to like-minded people in the industry will not only help to raise your company profile, but it will help you find people to join you on your mission.

Websites like Eventbrite and Meetup are great for finding industry events. Alternatively, the events page on Facebook or LinkedIn will list upcoming events in your area.

But how can you be sure that you are getting the most out of your networking events?

Take the time to carry out a little market research.

If you know you will be hiring a software engineer, speak to software engineers and find out what they look for in a role, and consider these points when you start hiring.

Don’t just reach out to people in your industry. Forge connections with people with varying roles and experience levels, not only because they could connect you to your next hire, but you could build valuable relationships too!

Startup roles are often perfect for young people who want to learn a variety of skills. 

Contact the enterprise departments at your local schools and colleges to really expand your talent pool. Although talking at events like this may not lead to a direct hire, it is a great way to invest in the next generation of startup talent.

Alternatively, if you have the option to offer internships, these events are a great way to find good candidates who are eager to learn. This small investment may have big payoffs as you scale. 

Ideas to grow hires from events:

  • Broaden your search so you can find young people who are eager to learn a variety of skills
  • Contact the enterprise departments at your local schools and colleges to join their events and expand your talent pool 
  • Set up your own events like meetups with a specific theme related to your business (for example data science, fintech or blockchain)

At ISL Recruitment, we have hosted several meetup events in the past from data science and machine learning to tackling unconscious bias in the workforce. They are a great way of connecting with people in the industry and initiating those important conversations. 

For a more in-depth list of the questions you need to ask yourself before setting up an event, read our blog on how to get the most out of networking events. 

And remember, after any event, it is important to follow up with any new contacts you have made to keep the conversation going.

Personal network

Turn your focus inwards and use your personal network to source startup talent.

Speak to your team

Your employees will likely have friends or connections with people who share similar interests.

Who better to sell your company and reach passive candidates than current members of your team? Referral schemes are also viewed as a successful way to bring people onboard.

It is a good idea to talk to your team about what role you need to hire for, and what skills to test for. Not only will it help you write an attractive job ad, but it will also help maintain good company culture if your team members feel listened to.

Encourage your team to share their (hopefully positive) experiences on social media for their network to see.

Ideas to grow hires from your personal networks:

  • Set up an employee referral scheme
  • Filter LinkedIn for your 1st connections and see who might fit a role or who could know someone
  • Talk to your family and friends to get the word out there
  • Talk to your team to help decide what role will be most beneficial to hire for and factor this in when writing your ads

Social Media

Social media is an amazing tool when it comes to reaching and connecting with new people.

You can keep up to date with the latest trends whilst connecting on a deeper level with your audience.

There are so many different platforms out there, don’t fall into the trap of only searching through LinkedIn. Instead, think about where your ideal candidate hangs out online.

When it comes to building a brand on social media, you need to be active, consistent, and authentic.

By staying active and consistent, the algorithms will work in your favour, and you will find that you get more traction.

You will also help to establish a clear brand that people recognise and this will work as an advert for your company. Stay authentic because you will connect with people who share similar values.

Make it clear to your audience that you are hiring and tell them to spread the word.

Ideas to grow hires from social media:

  • Ask employees to share and engage with job posts on their LinkedIn timeline
  • Think about where your ideal candidate hangs out. Create an account on platforms like Medium, Twitter, AngelList, Meetup and look for talent there
  • Create a Slack channel to share social media posts that are related to your employer brand and jobs so team members can like and share them and boost your reach
  • Being active and engage with people's posts online to help the algorithms work in your favour

Get in touch with a Recruiter

In the early days of building your business it can feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day.. Contacting a recruiter can allow you to focus on other areas of your business.

It can feel daunting to grow your talent pool from scratch.

Many recruiters are experts in their market field and have a wide-reaching pipeline of both active job seeking candidates and passive candidates.

Outsourcing this focused recruitment effort will lead to a speedy turnaround and a better candidate experience.

Not only can a recruiter help you to reach a wider talent pool, but they can also help you to manage the whole process from start to finish.

Role Mapper, a previous Tech Nation Rising Star winner, came to ISL Recruitment during their scaleup phase to hire a CTO.

We managed the whole process over the course of 8-weeks, presenting 7 candidates for initial interviews with 3 reaching the final stage.

As part of our involvement, we met the candidates and helped play an active part in defining the role and designing the interview process.

At the end of the process, Role Mapper brought their new CTO on board.

Building a startup is never going to be without its growing pains. But having a trusted recruitment partner to help you manage the process will help make the transition from startup to scaleup seamless. 

By establishing a clear mission and focusing on building a strong brand from day one, you will find it is easier to attract and retain talent.

If you are planning on growing your business, then check out our Talent Guide for Founders which covers the biggest hiring mistakes and how to avoid them.


This is a guest blog written by Róisín Phelan. Róisín is the Content Writer at ISL Recruitment. Her writing tackles the intricate troubles faced by startup founders and tech talent. Whether you are a founder looking to grow your team, or a candidate wanting to secure your dream tech role, Róisín’s writing offers valuable insight into the ins and outs of the tech world.

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