Attracting — and retaining — top tech talent at any business is a struggle. Even more so, when corporate America offers up big paychecks, ultra generous packages, and fun company perks. Basically, it takes a little something extra to lure exceptional employees to your company, particularly if you’re a nonprofit.
However, some nonprofits and social startups have learned they can attract these potential employees using their mission, as opposed to perks. Below, six successful entrepreneurs shared tips for leveraging their company’s work to recruit top candidates. Here’s what they suggested.
1. Be a Supportive Employer
Your company’s mission encompasses more than giving back money or time. It’s also about the lifestyle values that you hold for everyone at your company. My company values the skills and interests of all our employees and helps to cultivate them, even if doing so will eventually lead them out of the company. Recently, our customer service rep was accepted into a prestigious week-long theater workshop that coincided with a busy launch. She was given paid time off to pursue her theater career, even though the timing was bad. When you give employees the freedom to pursue all of their dreams, they will give back tenfold.
– Laura Roeder, LKR
2. Make Passion Collaborative
There’s nothing more contagious than passion for a social mission, but it has to be genuine. Unless true enthusiasm can be communicated, it’s going to be hard to persuade others to get on board. One way I’ve found to best share that vision is to be open and even ask for others to help shape it in the future. That opportunity is, I think, what truly inspires people to sacrifice things like money and time. If they’re thrilled to wake up every morning because they know they can help make the difference they want to make, why not sacrifice the less important stuff?
– Derek Flanzraich, Greatist
3. Give Recognition
Everyone wants to be a part of something bigger than themselves. If you make sure that potential recruits are aware that they will be they’ll be publicly recognized for their role in the success of your startup or nonprofit, they’ll be more likely to jump on board. My company did this recently. We needed some help supporting our web design students with their questions, and the first people we considered hiring were past graduates. Because they were already on board with our mission of empowering women on the web, they were the perfect candidates. But it was the fact that we promised to spotlight them on our website that got them to say yes to the offer.
– Amanda Aitken, The Girl’s Guide to Web Design
4. Allow Them to Grow with the Company
While there are many young people attracted to nonprofits, an equal share of them are interested in having great salary potential. Make sure to focus on your socially-conscious mission while simultaneously emphasizing the strength of your business model and its long-term growth. Demonstrate that your company profits without hurting anyone. Sara Blakely, CEO of Spanx, recently said in an interview that you can focus on building your business without the negative energy of focusing on killing your competition. These are the type of messages that passionate people respond to.
– Raoul Davis, Ascendant Group
5. Help Them Achieve Their Goals
If you can’t simply pay for the best talent, then you should try and find other ways of attracting and retaining top tech applicants. Your goal should be to find people with talent who are motivated by their passions. Find someone with a passion and help them achieve that. Provide a “personal day” for them to incubate their own ideas or work on their own initiatives while they are in the office. What resources or contacts (besides money) can you contribute towards their project? Attract them with the allocation of those resources in an effort to make their passion a reality.
– Lucas Sommer, Audimated
6. Let Them Make Their Mark
Providing employees the opportunity to flex their talent and make their mark is crucial. It’s not about climbing the corporate ladder. Top talent is never content with just doing their job. They want to make an impact and create a legacy. Allowing them the opportunity to fuse work and philanthropy with a strong social mission will attract top talent to your startup.
– Melissa Cassera, Cassera Communications