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Ask James Caan – Issue 115

Written by Kimberley Startup | October 17, 2012 | 0 Comments

James Caan Online RecruitmentDear Member,

How would you attract talent if you are a start-up business on a restricted budget?

This week I’d like to turn your attention to some of the issues faced by start-ups looking to grow their team, thanks to an email from Matt.

Matt is the owner of a specialist recruitment business based in Dubai. Since setting up in 2009, he has hired two additional staff and is now looking to take on a third.

However, amidst the downturn as well as a restricted budget, hiring new employees has become a difficult challenge.

He asked me: ‘Do you have any advice on how we can continue to attract the right individuals to the business on a fairly stringent budget?’

Matt, it’s great to hear that business is going well and you’re looking to expand. But, you’re not alone when it comes to the challenges you face when attracting talent.

Cultural fit within an organisation is an important factor in recruitment, and start-ups often find themselves losing out on the war for talent, unable to offer the same opportunities as a large corporation.

Building a team that supports your vision and passion can put a significant strain on your resources. With fewer hands to manage the hiring process and restricted budgets, it can be an inherently risky venture.

Yet, if you want to do great work, you need great people. And the success or failure of your startup often depends on the quality of the people you’re able to attract.

You don’t need big recruitment budgets or HR departments to attract top talent. There are plenty of proven techniques you can use to attract talent. It just takes a bit of creativity and thinking outside the box.

To begin with, ask yourself these questions: What does your company stand for? Why would someone want to work for you? What are your brand values?

As a start-up, you might not be able to offer all the benefits and employee perks that a big corporation can, but you can offer purpose and independence.

Likewise, smaller businesses are also able to offer greater influence than a bigger organisation. Employees will have a real impact in a start-up and see the results of their hard work.

Those drawn to working at a start-up are often motivated by the chance to work in a dynamic, growing company. By determining and communicating what makes your start-up unique, as well as your expectations of new hires, you’ll be able to screen out potential employees who simply won’t fit within your culture.

You’ll also need to create a compelling employment offer, such as flexible working arrangements or assistance securing UAE work visas. Whilst a start-up may offer plenty of advantages in terms of responsibilities and excitement, there are also some limitations. Taking a job with a young company represents a significant risk to employees who can’t guarantee their job will be there in a few years’ time.

Keep in mind that you might need to get a little creative when it comes to getting your startup’s name out there in order to attract good workers.

Networking can solve a lot of start-ups’ recruitment problems. In fact, word of mouth referrals have become increasingly common for sourcing quality candidates. Ask your existing employees, business partners and personal connections if they know of anyone suitable.

You could also look into start-up specific networking events in your area. After all, sometimes it’s not what you know, but who you know.

Recruitment is a critical, if not the most important, activity for any organisation. Particularly as a young company, Matt, business moves more efficiently because of the team around you.

By understanding the values and opportunities you can offer, attracting and finding the right person for your team should be a lot easier.


James Caan

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