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A part of every recruiter’s career journey includes losing a candidate to a powerhouse of a company. It can leave even the best recruiters feeling dejected at having to compete with a company that has seemingly infinite resources, compared to their tiny startup.  

While a mammoth salary and other benefits are often major factors in a developer candidate’s decision, there are numerous other ways of beating that big player in securing the candidate’s signature.

Candidate Experience

It goes without saying that your developer hiring process is a monumental part of employer branding, so this needs to be as close to perfect as possible.  For a developer, they need to feel that you are testing for the right things; a gruelling technical exercise that tests relevant skills needed for the role is still more preferable than an easy but irrelevant exercise. It’s important to make sure the process remains relevant, and is not something simply taken from another company because it seems to work for them.

A Faster Hiring Process

The biggest advantage that a startup has over a larger company when recruiting developers is the speed at which they can move. A flatter company structure usually means there are fewer roadblocks in the hiring process, so the turnaround time in making a hire can be half of what it is at bigger companies. Developers regularly reject offers if they haven’t been made to feel wanted by the interviewing company. One of the main ways of making a candidate feeling unimportant is to have holdups in the hiring process, without constant communication as to why. Make this mistake, and be prepared to see your candidate withdraw from the process.

A good developer usually has a couple of interviews on the go, so noticing that your company is making an effort to move quickly serves as a huge compliment, highlighting how much you value the candidate’s application to your company. Moving too slowly might reflect poorly on your employer brand and give the impression you aren’t keen on a candidate while moving quickly shows that you’re very excited at potentially bringing this developer on board.

Meeting the Founder/CEO

If your company can facilitate having the CEO/Founder involved in any part of the hiring process, you should utilize this. It’s a personal touch that larger places can’t afford to offer due to the sheer size of the company. Meeting with a senior employee is a courtesy that won’t be long forgotten. Having some one-on- time with the CEO or Founder offers two main benefits. It shows the candidate that those in charge of the company value every potential hire, and have taken the time to personally meet with them. It also allows the candidate to ask high-level questions about the future of the business and see exactly what kind of contribution he or she will be able to make.

Impact, Impact, Impact!

As a startup, you can use the preconceived notions of larger companies offering less career satisfaction to your advantage. There is always talk of employees at larger companies feeling like “a cog in the corporate machine” or “a small fish in a big pond”,so highlighting the career development and freedom your company offers is a great way to attract talent.  

By consistently talking about where the candidate would fit into the tech team, what sort of projects they will be working on if successful, and painting a long term picture, the candidate will be better placed to envision their time as part of your engineering team in the long term.

Overall, there some clear disadvantage that startups face when battling it out with bigger companies for the signature of a tech superstar. But it’s important to utilize the speed and manoeuvrability in the hiring process, to give yourself every opportunity to make great hires.

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