Unique ways to solve today’s talent crunch

Finding the right engineer, UX designer or marketer can make all the difference for your start-up. After all, the caliber of talent makes or breaks a company, no matter its size. But recruiting is hard, particularly in these bubbly times when top tech talent can pretty much go wherever they choose.

This hiring challenge has pushed several startups to get creative and take an innovative approach to recruiting. Here are a few examples:

1. Look for acquired teams

Today’s trend of acqui-hires can result in some dissatisfied technical teams post acquisition. Engineers who were attracted to the pace and dynamics of a start-up can get bored and frustrated with life in a big, public company. After a few years, they might be ready to move on. If you look hard enough, you might find really smart teams with a history of working well together who are willing to jump over to your start-up.

2. Run a contest

Put together a really hard problem to solve and run it as your own contest, or use a platform like HackerRank or Talentbuddy. These are good avenues for finding very smart people in your vertical, particularly global or small market candidates who may not be visible otherwise.

A well-known example was the Quixey Challenge, where Palo Alto-based Quixey offered a monthly programming contest. Anyone who could solve the coding puzzle in less than a minute won $100 and a Quixey t-shirt. The contest cost Quixey about $10,000 each month, but that’s far less than what it might cost to hire a good engineer through a recruiter.

3. Onshore immigrant employees in Canada

It’s no secret that there’s a shortage of H1-B visas for highly skilled workers in the U.S. That’s one reason there’s a growing trend for tech companies to open offices in Canada, as Canada is willing to grant visas to practically any highly skilled worker with a salaried job.

Last year Facebook opened a temporary office in Vancouver to train newly hired developers while they wait for U.S. visas. Likewise, Microsoft (which applied for about twice the H-1B visas it received for 2015) opened a Vancouver office where they’ll hire and train about 400 software developers. Those are high profile examples, but many smaller companies are adopting this strategy as well.

4. Acquire a smaller development shop

If you are looking to build out an entire team or department, you can always look into making your own acquisition. For example, Shopify acquired Jet Cooper, one of Canada’s top user experience and design firms. Look for an agency or firm specializing in whatever core competency you need to fill.

The bottom line is every start-up needs good talent and you can’t sit around and wait for the perfect hire to walk through your doors. Get creative in order to bring the best talent to you.

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