Great employees can help you take your startup to the next level. But how do you find them? It can be a challenge for any business to recruit the best hires. But for an early stage startup, it can be even tougher.

There’s the competition with established companies for talented employees. And then there’s the salary issue: How do you lure candidates who could command bigger paychecks at larger companies? But that doesn’t have to keep you from reeling in top talent. The key is to know your selling points – and how to sell them to the right candidates.

A startup is appealing to some potential employees  

Don’t underestimate the appeal of working for a start-up on the rise. Startups have never been so hot, thanks to Shark Tank, the rise of entrepreneurship courses at colleges, and the growing legions of angel investors, incubators and other sources of financial support for innovation.

While the idea of working for a startup might have seemed risky to some a decade ago, many candidates these days will value the chance to be on the ground floor of an exciting new venture. Seeing major employers downsize during the recession has given them a new perspective on the meaning of risk.

Be upfront about the requirements

In an article in Entrepreneur, Firas Kittaneh encourages employers to be upfront about what the job requires.

“To hire the perfect new team member, fully disclose current expectations for the role being filled and how that may change as the business evolves and pivots,” Kittaneh says. “Candidates need to be prepared and even excited about the fluid nature of a startup and how that might affect their day-to-day responsibilities. Otherwise, those who are underprepared will become bitter and burn out.”

Build positive relationships and consider benefits

Kittaneh also recommends building positive relationships with all candidates. Think of each contact with a job seeker as an opportunity to spread the word about your business. “If a candidate turns out to be a terrible fit for your business, write off the lost time and salvage the situation by turning that person into a brand advocate,” he says.

You can also count on attracting candidates by offering enticing benefits. Many startups don’t offer health insurance. But equity can attract candidates instead, growth consultant George Deeb writes in Forbes. “The employee has a lot more responsibility and fun working inside a nimble, early-stage startup compared to working a ‘cog in the wheel,’ routine job within a big company.”

Ask for help with hiring

Reach out to friends experienced in hiring to ask about finding candidates, interviewing techniques and other advice. The Small Business Administration, for example, has an online course on hiring at

After making the hire, Kittaneh recommends closing the deal, again. “Continue to sell the new hire on the opportunity throughout their first weeks of work,” Kittaneh says. “When possible, make the new recruits feel like family, give them what they need, remove barriers and provide them the resources and the knowledge to become successful. Then you’ll be impressed by your startup’s retention rate and amazed by what new hires can accomplish.”