8 Ways to Avoid Scaring Off Startup Talent

Every business wants people with in-demand skills, which is why they are so hard to find. But they are also easy to lose. All too often bad recruiting tactics drive off the best prospects rather than draw them in. Here are eight ways that the perfect candidate can disappear due to poor recruitment methods.

1. Demanding Job Listings

As the first step in recruiting, these ads must generate excitement in the position, not simply declare a long list of qualifications. If you list 5 different programming languages for a developer as “must haves”, a candidate who is missing just one will likely move on. Trying to weed out the poorest candidates may also weed out some of the best. Work with a minimum standard for candidates, not an idealized portrait of an employee who probably doesn’t exist.

2. Long Application Process

Most hiring managers or HR personnel can get a good picture of an applicant by checking out their social media pages and a few recent references. Background checks can also thin the field. There’s no need to discourage them with a 10-page application requiring information you can obtain in the first interview. The whole idea at this stage is just to narrow down the field to a handful of the most promising candidates. Don’t gather so much information that you end up sifting through a hundred pages of documentation. By the time you’re done the best candidates may be interviewing with somebody else.

3. Delays and Bad Communication

When any candidate submits a resume, they often get no more response then a bland email saying “You will be considered for this position,” which is the same as saying, “Nobody is looking at your resume and we’ll get to it when we get to it”. To job seekers, these generic responses equate to a negative. Nobody seeking employment has the patience or confidence to be sitting around for two weeks waiting for something more. Top candidates are in high demand, so someone should be delegated to look over all applications ASAP and flag those that look really promising.

4. Low Starting Salary

It’s understandable to offer lower wages to new employees that has yet to prove themselves, but applicants confident that they can do better may not even bother with low-ball offers. It certainly doesn’t say much about the company if they have high expectations but little appreciation. Even if the business is unable to pay top wages, at least sweeten the deal with promises of frequent performance reviews, a shorter trial period, hiring bonuses, or other perks to signing on. Those who accept a lower salary will likely keep looking for something better. Check out the latest stats with the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

5. No Frills

Before the hiring process even begins, employers and recruiters should know establish benefits beyond a regular paycheck. What can employees expect in insurance, sick days, vacation, and so forth? What’s the policy regarding 401Ks, tuition reimbursement, or stock options? Are there amenities like fitness centers or child care? The “opportunities” you advertise may not be so appealing, which means you have to up the offer to retain talent.

6. Stressful Workplace

The working environment is vital to win the loyalty of skilled employees who are eager to express their talents. Unrealistic demands, micro-management, and office politics can spoil the new-hire experience on the very first day. In order to thrive, talented individuals need managers who are capable, focused, and supportive.

7. Wasteful Processes

New employees tend to show up full of hope and enthusiasm, and eager to please. But they will fade fast if their input is mired in the corporate bureaucracy of forms, reports, pointless meetings, and changing priorities. Talented people are good at what they do because they like doing it. Asking them to spend much of their time doing something unproductive is the surest way to send them back to a job search.

8. Neglecting Feedback

Search Party states that one of the most valuable recruitment tools is a means of gathering feedback from candidates who’ve been through your process. Honest feedback can tell you both what you’re doing wrong and what you’re doing right. You can get a clearer picture of what applicants expect, what they want, and what they are willing to do to get it. Altering your methods to be more efficient and more enticing will help bring the top performers to the forefront, instead of pushing them away.

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Written by:
Chris is father, husband and all-round computer geek who had privilege to watch technology rising from its bare beginnings and powering life as we know it today. Worked as software architect and developer for some of the biggest brands. Human rights activist and digital freedoms advocate. Also, the green tea connoisseur.
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