Why can't you find an IT specialist for your startup?

The IT market is experiencing a crisis all over the world - the number of vacancies is declining, while the number of specialists open to new offers is steadily growing. There are many reasons for such changes in the IT market. The main now is the  Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the economic crisis and its consequences in all spheres of our lives

Especially serious changes have occurred in the startup industry. The decline in investment in young projects has seriously affected the ability of startups to continue their business, enter round funding and scale. Consequently, the startup industry is now more often associated with instability and unpredictability.

For these reasons, it becomes really challenging for many startups to hire tech specialists to the team, even despite the fact that many free specialists have appeared among the candidates.

Realising how difficult it is for many startups now and understanding the value of employees for business development, I thought it would be important to prepare an article in which I will describe practical tools for motivating IT specialists to join your startup.

All tips are based on the experience of my international IT recruitment agency Lucky Hunter, as well as market trends and the general situation in the international IT market.

Why specialists don't join your startup

Before giving advice on hiring, let's look at why talented IT specialists may refuse to go to your project. First, investigate the most obvious reasons. Here are some of them:

  • you offer a non-competitive (inadequate) salary, 
  • your product sounds uninteresting, 
  • the killer feature and USP are not clear enough for the specialist, 
  • you have too high requirements for the candidate.

I would not like to dwell on these points, since these are too trivial stories about which many articles have already been written. But if it seems to you that one of the reasons could be yours, urgently study the market, identify relevant wages, study the candidates' dwell CVs, and look at the vacancies of competitors. In addition, it is important to adequately assess your project and the tasks that the specialist will have, to understand the fate and prospects of your project.

These basic things will help you quickly fix the problem and possibly help fill the vacancy shortly. Still, many IT candidates around the world are now open to new offers.

If (as I hope) you did not find yours among the reasons, I suggest you dig a little deeper and study some other reasons why specialists refuse to join your project.

  1. Your recruiting processes are poorly organised

Do you use all channels for your search, or do you only use well-known platforms? How do you communicate with candidates: do you write boilerplate emails or approach each one individually? How many selection stages do you have? Do you ask a candidate to complete a test assignment? 

These are just a series of questions that will help you orient yourself and help to find an answer: do you negotiate with specialists correctly?

In the field of IT, many selection stages are not accepted, especially if you are hiring a specialist in a startup. It is important that all processes are set up perfectly, the candidate does not have to wait for feedback for several weeks and receives feedback on all hiring steps!

Moreover, do not include test assignments if you are looking for Senior+ level specialists, this may scare the candidate off, and they will choose a more attractive offer.

  1. You have built the wrong candidate profile

Another "pain" of startups is the profile of the desired specialist. Sometimes it seems to founders of startups that only an experienced specialist is able to cope with the tasks assigned to the development department. In this case, it turns out that the founder is looking for an employee with rich experience and knowledge for tasks that a middle-level specialist can handle.

It is logical that Senior-level candidates will not be interested in such work, so it makes sense to reduce the requirements for a specialist. If you can't define the profile yourself, ask for help. Usually, recruitment agencies, consulting companies or freelance recruiters help with such issues.

  1. You have an unattractive presentation of your vacancy

When compiling a vacancy, assume that every area can become attractive, the main thing here is how you present it. It is important to accurately show your USP, describe your unique advantage, and show the value of the product to society.

Most IT professionals prefer to work on cool useful projects that are potentially investible, and ideally could be the next Facebook or Google.

It is important that you personally believe in the bright future of your startup. In our practice, it was often the founder that played a decisive role in the motivation of a valuable employee. Seeing how the founder believed in his product, the specialists took up the passion for the idea and began to see in the work a powerful benefit and a desire to have a hand in the creation of the founder's product.

The company presentation is a very essential component, which is worth the time because this is the first and very significant stage of getting to know the company.

  1. You choose the wrong motivation strategy 

To determine the right way to motivate, you need to understand the conditions in which candidates are right now. For example, in an unstable political environment around the world, it is important to show the candidate that despite the fact that you have a startup, you have money, and you are a stable company with great potential and opportunities.

Agree, it is very difficult to agree to work in a company that in six months may go bankrupt, and you will have to look for a job again. Show that you are doing well, that you are expanding, and that you have a clear, well-thought-out investment plan, and then you will fix one of the most important problems of modern candidates - the need for stability.

Also, if you are hiring specialists from countries such as Ukraine, Russia and Belarus, try to provide the candidate with a relocation package. This item is now the top priority of specialists from these regions.

Short checklist

So, in order to find a talented specialist and interest them in your work, you should:

  1. Optimise recruiting processes and ask for feedback from every candidate who refused to consider your offer. By doing this, you'll better understand why candidates don't want to consider your offer.
  2. Clearly build the candidate's profile. This is the knowledge and skills of a specialist that will be needed to work specifically in your team. Before you start the search, you need to know exactly who you are looking for as your motivation strategy depends on the profile you built. 
  3. Take the time to prepare a good description of your company for the vacancy. So you can interest more candidates, and show yourself "in a more favourable light" compared to competitors.
  4. Focus on stability, investments, and good working conditions - these are now the most effective ways to motivate most IT candidates.

I'm sure you will succeed. I wish you good luck in finding your ideal candidate