How to Recruit Top Talent on a Budget

A guest blog by Kelli Newman, powered by Backstage Capital

Dec 15, 2016 · 3 min read

No matter the product or service, all successful startups are essentially collections of talented people working together toward a shared mission. Your idea could be “the next Facebook,” but if you can’t attract people to help build, sell, and operate the idea, it can only go so far. But how do you attract top talent when many of your prospective hires are also being wooed by companies with far deeper pockets? Salaries simply can’t compete, and there is only so much equity to go around. Read on for creative ways to attract top talent no matter your budget.

Create a Friendly Culture

Money isn’t everything. After basic needs are met, most people report greater happiness gains not from higher salaries, but from better managers and more supportive colleagues. From day one, you should work to foster a workplace environment that rewards teamwork and respect. Many talented candidates would gladly trade several thousand dollars a year for a better company culture.

Offer Unlimited PTO

Several startups have hopped on the trend of offering employees unlimited paid time off. This is a perk that doesn’t cost you a thing, particularly when you take into account the countless studies that prove employees who take time off from work come back more productive and more engaged in their job.

Be Flexible

Let your employees set their own hours and work from home whenever possible. With the countless free and affordable tools out there (we love Slack!), telecommuting is easier than ever. This is a huge perk for parents, in particular, as well as employees who live further from your office and would otherwise waste hours on the commute.

Encourage Employee Referrals

According to Teamable, a software platform that makes employee referrals seamless, new hires who are brought in via employee referral are easier to close, hit productivity sooner, and are far less likely to quit. Offering employees a $1,000 bonus for every new hire they refer is an incredibly cost-effective way to attract top talent without having to spend money on recruiting agency fees or diverting your in-house recruiter’s precious time any more than necessary.

Play Up Your Mission

If there’s one thing people want more than money, it’s meaning. Everyone wants to feel like they are making a difference in the world and almost every startup, regardless of product or service, can find a deeper mission than making money. At FabFitFun, we inspire happiness and personal growth through discovery. What does your startup do? Share that mission with every candidate you come in contact with.

Happy hunting!


About the author: Kelli Newman is the Head of People Operations at FabFitFun and an entrepreneur in residence at Backstage Capital. Kelli was recognized in Forbes 30 Under 30 for her efforts to advance diversity and inclusion in tech and in the legal profession. She is a graduate of Stanford Law School and Rice University, and lives in sunny Los Angeles.

About Backstage Capital: Founded by Arlan Hamilton, Backstage Capital is dedicated to helping to minimize funding disparities in tech by investing in high-potential founders who are of color, women, and/or LGBTQ. Backstage invests $25k-$100k in pre-Seed and Seed-stage startups that see the world through a unique lens. Follow us on twitter @Backstage_Cap!

Green Room

Welcome to the Green Room blog. Go behind the scenes at Backstage Capital, where we're betting big on underrepresented tech startup founders.


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Venture Capitalist + Tour Manager for Janine & The Mixtape

Green Room

Welcome to the Green Room blog. Go behind the scenes at Backstage Capital, where we're betting big on underrepresented tech startup founders.

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