By Zach Ferres, Entrepreneur
The talent scramble is cutthroat these days, and a ton of capital is coursing through the technology space. Venture capitalists invested $48.3 billion in 4,356 deals last year, with Internet-specific companies nabbing a huge chunk of the pot. That makes for a 61 percent jump from the previous year.
The race to recruit isn’t just based on compensation anymore. Talented engineers and developers are so spoiled for choice that more intricate motivators have entered the game. Which company will let them backpack across Central America for three months of the year? Which company conducts the best in-house pranks? Which office has the best craft beer selection?
Startups are having to battle with big companies and one another for the same talent. Recently, we were getting ready to hire a new team member, and at the last minute, he pulled out, saying he’d just received another offer that he couldn’t refuse. I went onto LinkedIn the next morning and saw that he’d been snatched up by one of my buddies at another locally funded startup.
The point: Recruiting tech talent has become a free for all. Startup leaders need a new strategy. Here are four creative recruitment tactics that have worked for me, and I bet they’ll work for you, too:
1. Be your own host.
In this climate, just attending events isn’t enough. A great way to establish your brand as a leader and an innovator is to actually host your own events. By positioning your company as a welcoming, connecting presence in the community, candidates will start associating you with leadership and be drawn to your name when they look for new opportunities.
My company has been trying to support the local startup ecosystem. Now, we host events such as Startup Weekend, opening up our office to tech minds from the Phoenix area to meet and collaborate. Our brand has grown because of it. Lately, most of our candidates mention that they’ve seen us around or thank us for the great time they had at our last startup event.
2. Target creative staffing models.
If you want to make an impression and align your brand with the most innovative recruits, there’s no need to go in blind. Try to target your staffing strategy to the most innovative models.
One interesting model emerging from the pack is Triumph, which hosts events in big cities across the country, matching companies with elite and pre-screened tech candidates. The talent is invited by referral only, and Triumph spends a lot of time before each event getting to know these candidates. It tries to match the ratio of industries and skills to those required by the employers that have RSVP’d.
3. Treat recruiting like online dating.
Tinder might not be your best bet for recruitment, but capitalizing on the Internet’s growing range of meeting and networking methods could open many doors for your startup.
Meetup is a great place to find passionate pockets of talent locally. The site provides immediate access to local groups, and you’d be surprised how far sponsoring the pizza can go. This is a great way to position your brand as a supporter of the people actually doing the work.
4. Utilize apps to find new talent.
Meetup isn’t alone. The Internet is full of sites designed to help you find top talent, with everything from the big names such as Hired to more focused sites such as Toptal and HackerRank. With a little digging, the best resources are at your fingertips.
You have to get creative to find top talent for your startup nowadays. If you try new avenues and start taking matters into your own hands by becoming an invested community developer, you’ll soon have more tech geniuses on your doorstep than you know what to do with. And that’s a great problem to have.
More from Entrepreneur: