Navigating the Shallow Talent Pool: Strategies for Startups

Imagine having a brilliant startup idea but not enough talent to bring it to fruition.

Unfortunately, this is a reality for many startups. The shortage of skilled workers in certain areas and competition from larger, more established companies can make it challenging for startups to find and hire the right people.

When you also closely monitor what you spend, the narrow path to realizing your dream just became even thinner. A shallow talent pool is definitely a top obstacle for founders trying to scale their businesses.

In reality, the hiring process is always challenging—even when you have unlimited funds and exposure to your ideal candidates. That’s why startups that are bootstrapping or working with a limited cash flow need to use recruitment tools and methods that are a bit left of center.

In this blog, we’ll explore strategies startups can use to identify potential candidates and overcome the challenge of a dearth of talent. There is no point going down the usual route of job posting if it’s not working!

So, let’s consign your current recruiting methods and hiring process to the scrap heap and look at ways of uncovering top candidates who are the right match to take your startup to the next level.

Rethink your hiring methods

confused man with his laptop

Before going into specific locations, let’s talk strategy. 

Are you currently paying a recruiter to find you leads? Are you attending job fairs? Do you only post to

Whatever your current recruiting methods are, you likely need to think outside the box. By broadening the scope of their candidate search, startups can discover new talent and increase the chances of finding the right person for the job.

Rigidity has no place in modern-day recruitment. We are currently in an ecosystem where employees have more choices about where they work when they work, and for whom. 

Therefore, you must also stand out as a worthy workplace to gain access to an ideal candidate. Flexibility, creativity, and inclusion are all metrics you should consider before advertising new vacancies.

Hire freelancers and remote workers

One option for startups is to hire remote workers. The COVID-19 pandemic has made remote work more popular than ever before. The gig economy is booming, and more and more people are asking: why is it necessary for me to come into an office?

That question is undoubtedly valid if your business can operate efficiently without in-person meetings and face-to-face collaboration. By stepping away from the traditional workplace paradigm, startups widen their net to include freelancers and those workers who choose to work from home. Assuming that time zones are also not an issue, startups now have access to skilled freelancers from anywhere in the world.

If local talent is becoming hard to find, why sacrifice your company’s productivity by continuing to look within a 50-mile radius? There is so much to be gained by rolling the dice on deserving candidates elsewhere.

Write great job postings

Vague, uninteresting job descriptions say a lot about a company. Mainly that they are dull and uninspiring. On the other hand, a job description that captures the imagination of an applicant is like a red rag to a bull.

The issue here is knowing what you want. 

If you aren’t a software developer or a graphic designer, describing job openings to passive candidates in this field will take a lot of work.

With so many companies vying for skilled workers, it’s crucial to create job descriptions that are clear, concise, and compelling. Job seekers are more likely to apply to a position that clearly outlines what’s expected of them and how they can contribute to the company’s success.

If you already have someone in a similar role on the payroll, ask them what things get their attention when applying for a job. Better yet, get them to help you write the job posting! If not, do your research and visit forums like Reddit. There is a wealth of information out there to help you with your hiring needs.

Source candidates with diversity in mind

A diverse workforce brings fresh perspectives and ideas to the table. With employees from different backgrounds and cultures, startups can tap into a wealth of knowledge and unique insights. This can lead to more creative problem-solving and innovative solutions. A diverse workforce can help prevent groupthink and ensure that all voices are heard.

Creating a diverse workforce can also lead to increased employee satisfaction and retention. When employees feel valued and respected for who they are, they are more likely to be engaged and committed to their work. This can lead to higher productivity and better business outcomes.

Invest in employee development

team of people at work

Investing in employee development is another way for startups to overcome a talent shortage. By providing training opportunities to current employees, startups can develop their internal recruitment and increase the chances of retaining top workers.

When a company invests in internal and external development, it shows employees that it cares about employees’ personal growth. It has been proven that this increases employee satisfaction and prevents talented personnel from leaving to find greener pastures elsewhere.

Reskill your existing workforce

If you can identify an employee that would benefit from reskilling or upskilling, then this achieves two goals. Firstly, the employee has added competencies to their repertoire; secondly, your startup has created a larger pool of skilled individuals from within your own ranks.

Of course, this internal recruitment method can be time-consuming. However, when you struggle to secure hiring from outside your organization, why not make a hiring decision internally?

Partner with universities and boot camps

three university students

Universities and boot camps are becoming popular with early-stage startups as excellent resources for finding and attracting new talent. With a steady stream of eager graduates leaving tertiary institutions every year, why not reach out and see which unpolished gems are looking for opportunities to apply their knowledge and skills in real-world settings?

Furthermore, many universities and boot camps have programs specifically designed to develop students’ skills in certain areas, such as software development or digital marketing. Sometimes the best candidates are not ten-year industry veterans but people who have learned best practices that pertain to how things are done today.

Lastly, students joining your organization will likely be cheaper than a new hire with a massive portfolio and multiple years of experience. Sure, you will need to invest in training to get them up to speed, but at least they will know how your startup likes it to be done.

Leverage social media and networking

Woman sitting on a chair with "we are hiring" graphic

If large companies are using social media to attract the best of the best, why can’t you?

These once-under-utilized recruiting tools are the job boards of the future, and if you want to have any hope of finding that perfect candidate to hire, you need to be visible.

Social media: the modern-day job board

As many skilled workers are active on social media platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook, your startup can use job ads on social media to connect with potential employees and build relationships with them over time.

However, posting job ads on your startup’s Facebook page is probably insufficient. Firstly, you need to create a strong employer brand.

By sharing content that showcases their company culture, values, and work environment, you create a buzz around your product or service and entice top talent to take a closer look. One excellent method of achieving this is to share employee stories and testimonials to give potential candidates a glimpse into what it’s like to work at the company.

Face-to-face still has its place

Unfortunately for the introverts out there, there is still value in clinking a few wine glasses and handing out business cards to anyone who might be interested.

Networking is a powerful tool that startups can use to find new talent. By attending industry events, networking events, and conferences, startups can connect with available candidates and build relationships with them over time.

Networking is also an excellent way to find candidates not actively job searching. By attending events and engaging in conversations, startups, and hiring managers can discover talented individuals who may be open to new opportunities.

Consider outsourcing marketplaces

female software developer on a laptop

All of the above options may save you some money, but they will still require an enormous investment of your time. If you are looking to scale in the near future, it’s entirely possible you will need help now—not in a few months.

Luckily there are some fantastic outsourcing marketplaces online that you can utilize to hire freelancers immediately.

The best outsourcing marketplaces will have already covered the finer details, such as contracts, vetting, interviews, and compliance. If you are lucky, you can also select freelance talent that precisely matches your needs at an hourly rate that you can afford.

Perhaps the best part is you can select the right freelancers from any part of the world. 

Where once you couldn’t find talent no matter how hard you tried, now, you have your pick of the litter.

Quality outsourcing marketplaces focusing on startups ensure that their freelancers have experience working for companies looking to scale soon. These individuals know their client’s pain points and ensure every project they take on is done with the utmost care.

Innovative recruitment methods get results

online video interview

Ultimately, finding and retaining top talent is critical to the success of any startup. By implementing one or more of these strategies, startups can create a strong foundation for growth and build a team of skilled and dedicated professionals committed to achieving the company’s goals.

In this competitive work environment, your startup must consider all the hiring options to remain profitable and growth-orientated.

Choose Quickly Hire today

Hiring freelancers can come with its own set of headaches and related questions.

How do I know they are any good?

How much do I need to pay?

What paperwork do I need to produce?

At Quickly Hire, we take care of everything from vetting to payroll, compliance, and follow-up. Our freelancers are industry experts with a desire to help you succeed. If you’re a startup struggling to find the talent you need, cut down the average hiring time and consider contacting Quickly Hire.

Our great platform is a cost-effective solution that makes it easy to hire freelancers widens your access to talent, and gets your business moving in the right direction.


  • Alex McInnes

    Alex is Quickly Hire's content strategist and digital marketer. He's a New Zealand-born, Thailand-residing copywriter extraordinaire. Dad to two beautiful girls, Alex loves playing rugby, reading, and running with his soi dog, Effie.