5 ways to attract top tech talent when you’re a startup without big salaries

- January 7, 2022 3 MIN READ
Photo: AdobeStock
One of the biggest challenges for any startup is finding the right talent.

In big cities, they must compete with large, well known or global organisations that are appealing to job seekers due to their competitive salaries and bonuses.

This can be intimidating and present challenges in the recruitment process. However, there are distinguishable career rewards that set startups apart from the big guns when it comes to employment offerings, giving you a different currency to play with.

Highlighting these incentives is key through the recruitment process to ensure that top talent gravitates your way instantly. 


Here is a list of five things you should be emphasising to ensure you have an edge over your competitors;


1. Make it about meaning, not just the money

There is solid research indicating that job seekers often look for roles that bring meaning to their lives compared to those that pay more, particularly millennials.

In the past 10 years, an individual’s career has become an extension of their personal brand; people are yearning to connect the dots between their values and their daily actions, and work is a big part of this.

Recognising and promoting your business’ purpose and values can set you apart from the rest. So, get clear on what matters to you and how this connects to the decision-making process of potential recruits.

An example of this, is understanding why you do what you do, but perhaps even more than that, who you are doing it for.

A good question to know the answer to is; beyond making money, why does this company exist? Answer that, and you’ll be ready to engage people for more reasons than the size of their pay packet alone.


2. Commit to growing them as a professional and a person 

People will work for you for less money if they know that they will grow during their time with you. So double down on your commitments to investing into their skills and their character as a budding entrepreneur or highly skilled contributor.

Being a startup means you have way more flexibility in how you do what you do. Use your ‘low process’ environments and ‘open door policies’ to their advantage. And take the time to understand where they want to go in their life and career.

Phill Nosworthy

Anything you can do to support them on that long-term journey will be a reason for them to sign up to work with you now. And remember – growth and development aren’t just limited to skills!

Show them how to develop their whole self too, through smart investments and a culture of emotional intelligence, self-regulation and clear communication. After all – no one really wants to sign up for a job that promises the world, but will cost them their health, their friendships and their self-respect.

Give them that, and you will win every time. 



3. Give them real work to do

Committing to giving them real work, with real clients, with real autonomy will be one of your greatest leaps of faith as a startup lead. But it is a commitment that will win over those you want to be part of your team.

By giving people real work to do, you can fast track their career goals by years compared to other larger organisations where they will have to ‘get in line and wait their turn’.

So, share with your prospective employees how you plan to include them in the real stuff: leadership meetings, executive coaching, exposure to business planning and strategy plans and working closely with all departments. 


4. Make them an insider

Your prospective employees aren’t just looking for a pay cheque and a place to clock hours – they are looking for a community to be part of. Welcome them into that community!

Right from the start, connect them with your tribe and get them plugged into the circles that you move in.

It will make them feel part of something much bigger than just your team, but it also will serve to keep them more securely attached to your business over the long term. 


5. Show them that you are real

As the leader, you set the tone for the culture and habits of your entire business. So, walk the talk and embody the values that you have hanging on the wall. Nothing will alienate prospective talent from your team faster than a clear misalignment between what you say you are about and how you show up. Be real, be honest, be genuine and you will inspire trust and loyalty in a way that is very 

hard to come by in big and established businesses. 


  • Phill Nosworthy is an executive advisor and keynote speaker. Phill’s insights into personal mastery and career acceleration have led him to work with the likes of Microsoft, Universal Music and Commonwealth Bank of Australia. More broadly, his key subject areas are meaning, leadership and high performance.