The American job market has become even more competitive amid the pandemic-fueled “Great Resignation” — the number of employees quitting their jobs peaked in April 2021 and has remained high over the past few months. 

As a startup looking to hire your dream team, this news can be exciting. After all, the fate of your company largely depends on your ability to assemble the best possible talent. A recent report from CB Insights found that 14% of startups fail because they didn’t have the right team.

The sheer number of unemployed job seekers on the market right now — and the many others open to new career prospects elsewhere  — offers your company a unique opportunity. If you’re ready to recruit your startup dream team, here’s how to do it. 

4 qualities to look for in a good startup employee

As you start looking for the ideal employee to help grow your business in the right ways, be sure to look for the following traits.

1. Resourcefulness 

You’ll need people who have unending curiosity about the problems that plague your company and audience, as well as an ambition to solve them. They won’t be discouraged when they encounter dead ends in their work. In fact, they’ll be persistent in the way they pursue their goals, even when it seems impossible. 

This quality is especially important in a company where you won’t always have the resources to do your best work. Enterprising employees will make do anyway. You can trust them to manage your organization on their own because they’ll do whatever it takes to be successful. 

2. Tenacity

Employment at a startup isn’t for the faint of heart. There’s always a chance that your efforts fall apart or the company pivots to take advantage of a new opportunity. The best path forward is never clear, and taking action despite that uncertainty requires tenacity and courage. 

You may have to start over hundreds of times, so it’s important that your first employees can shake off the feeling of failure and try again — no matter how many attempts it takes. 

3. Passion for your company’s mission and values

Because working at a startup is often more difficult than working at an established company, it’s crucial to find employees that share your values. These workers want to show up to work every day — they’re not just there to collect a check. They look forward to contributing to your company’s mission because they believe in it too.

This means you’ll want to avoid people who do the opposite, as well. Those who don’t value your company’s work can have a detrimental effect on the rest of your team. In the worst cases, they’ll impact your team’s ability to produce quality work and cause others to quit. 

It’s simple to train people for skills they don’t have, but it’s much harder to change a poor attitude.

4. Distinctiveness

Building a diverse team brings varying viewpoints and ideas together, increasing your company’s ability to create new and innovative solutions. You’ll avoid blind spots and weak points in your approach to solving your audience’s problems, too. 

In fact, Deloitte found that diversity in thinking increases innovation by as much as 20%. Greater diversity also brings greater profits, according to a 2015 report from McKinsey. 

And because many people are changing careers amid the Great Resignation, it may benefit your company to seriously consider some unconventional candidates. The right ones may offer skills, insights, and applications that completely transform the way your startup operates. 

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How to build your startup dream team

Your startup or small business may find it challenging to compete against established companies for high-quality employees. Indeed, it’ll take more than charisma, networking, and business savvy to win over top talent — you’ll need a budget to match, too. If you’re unsure whether you can afford it, look into the various types of funding you may be able to secure that can help you recruit the best team for your organization without breaking the bank. 

Here are four other things to keep in mind as you build out your startup recruitment strategy. 

1. Develop a competitive compensation package

Although passion is great to have in a startup team, it doesn’t pay the bills. Unsurprisingly, a compensation package that’s commensurate with your employee’s experience will be crucial to bringing them onboard. 

Most job seekers understand that startups don’t have the resources to offer salaries similar to those at established organizations. Some are even willing to take a pay cut to work at a promising company they believe in. However, you should still do your best to draw up an offer that’s sustainable to you and fair to them. 

If your team’s starting salaries leave something to be desired, consider adding equity to your compensation packages, as well. Stock options, restricted stock, or performance shares can make your offer more attractive to the right candidate. 

2. Offer unconventional but practical employee benefits 

Employees want to know that their company will support them when times get tough or when the unexpected happens. The benefits a startup offers can set it apart from companies that only do the bare minimum for their workforce. 

You may decide to implement fun perks like unlimited vacation days, volunteer time off, or beer on tap on site. On the other hand, offerings like the ones below will be valuable to employees who need them most:

  • Child care stipends
  • Pet insurance
  • Legal assistance
  • Financial planning
  • Student loan repayment
  • Mental health services 

Some benefits can be offered at little to no cost to you, but others require additional funds to see through. Just make sure if you are paying for some of these perks on your credit card, which may seem like the most convenient option, you have a plan to pay off the charges before accruing too much interest. 

Even if you are within your introductory 0% APR period, the charges can sneak up on you. Making a long-term plan upfront to fund these benefits will allow you to maintain the offering well beyond the first few years of business. 

3. Show off professional development opportunities

Startups present a world of opportunities for their first few members. Employees with ambitions of leading a team or developing the strategy for their department are well-poised to do so. 

Consider recruiting these enterprising individuals by offering them professional development opportunities, education stipends, or mentorship programs. Aside from their immediate benefits, these perks are another way of investing in the progress of your company. Not only will your employees feel empowered to make decisions on behalf of your company, but you’ll also give them the knowledge and skills to do so confidently.

4. Implement remote-first or flexible work arrangements

Many companies adopted remote work during the pandemic, and as a result, candidates may expect you to do so, too. 

However, this arrangement transfers many overhead costs onto your team, so work-from-home options may not be enough to attract talent. Consider offering stipends for Wi-Fi, lunch, or office equipment to make your team’s work environments more comfortable and affordable. 

Of course, some duties are best performed in the office. In cases like these, hybrid work arrangements allow employees to work part-time from home and part-time on-site. 

Offer flexible hours to those with long commutes, unconventional schedules, or family members to care for at home. Other options include reimbursement for gas or public transportation, relocation incentives, and coworking spaces for team members living further away. 

Start small and keep growing

Expanding your team is one of the biggest steps you can take in growing your business. It’s also one of the most challenging. Hopefully, this guide has helped you identify what roles and types of people you need to build your dream team. Remember, you don’t need to dive headfirst into scaling out a team of twenty, ten, even five people. 

Start small, focus on the needs of your business, and put in the effort to find someone you can rely on to fulfill and expand your vision. 

AvatarJoshira Maduro

Joshira Maduro joined the LendingTree team in April 2020, covering credit card news and partnerships specifically for She utilizes her background in market research and branding to develop insightful pieces on better ways to spend and travel.