How to Recruit Developers for a Tech Startup

Recruiting developers for a tech startup is a challenge - but one Richard Wheeler Associates rises to!  What is it that motivates the top talent to choose a startup [YOUR business] over a myriad of alternatives? 

Maybe the chance to be in at the start; to make a measurable difference to a real world product - working on software used by lots of people (“I did that!”) - in an exciting sector ripe for innovation and growth; helping shape, and being part of, a talented team; the greater visibility one gains to ‘all things business’; share options. Fortunately therefore, for tech startups pay and benefits are not the only leverage they have. But good developers are in demand and there is much more a startup needs to do to compete. 

Richard Wheeler Associates has many years of experience in working with the founders of early stage startups to recruit the critical first members of development teams. The following are crucial factors any would-be employer needs to get right, and which can truly make the difference:


Tech startups need to be able to move fast to compete. They should be able to respond faster than the HR department of a large employer - this is where startups really do have an advantage.  Initial candidate telephone or Skype interviews should be arranged to take place on the same day as a potential new hire is found / applies, or, if not, as soon as the candidate is available. Delaying by only a few days or re-arranging because recruitment is not a priority will mean top candidates will go to a hungrier, more savvy employer.

A startup that can complete the hiring process from first meeting a candidate to producing a contract for a Permanent hire within 0-2 days will have an advantage over the competition.  Not least it will confirm the agility, commercial acumen and seriousness of this company to the candidate.

Pay vs Flexibility

Research the market rates for the IT jobs you are recruiting for and be prepared to pay a competitive salary.  Many tech startups offer equity in the form of share options and expect this to compensate for a lower salary.  Although potentially highly attractive, it doesn’t.  Share options may make up for a lack of other financial benefits but candidates will rarely take a pay cut to join a startup.

If a tech startup can’t compete with a corporate salary and benefits package then it needs to offer candidates flexibility instead.  Many stand-out candidates ask if remote or home working is possible or for flexibility on working hours / days or if relocating to join on a contract basis to try-out first.  Many London based startups attract candidates willing to relocate from other parts of the UK, or other countries. For these candidates a London salary is often a big step up and is attractive, even with the higher cost of living; to many it is therefore seen as ‘a given’.  Yet very often in today’s world developers won’t need to relocate; costs can be reduced through people working remotely and beginning each day (for example) with a Skype agile scrum meeting.  Once again this plays to a startup’s  uniquely flexible way of working.  Away from the city employers based in rural/provincial regions may [should!] use this ‘usp’ [idyll] to their advantage - though again, this will almost certainly not be enough.  In all these cases, drawing elements from the above smorgasbord will still apply.

By working in partnership with Richard Wheeler Associates, tech startups have saved valuable time and made successful hires enabling their businesses to truly flourish….and in many cases dazzle! 

Richard Wheeler Associates is a UK Search & Selection Consultancy specialising in Startup recruitment, CleanTech Recruitment and IT Recruitment.

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