How do I find and attract talent to my gaming company when we are just a startup?
"Just" a startup? Most technical and design talent are more attracted to startup opportunities than working for big companies. So the issue is not that you're a startup, the issues are around how you make yourself the most attractive startup to the talent you're trying to recruit.
The best way to do this is to be able to articulate why you're already on the path to being a very successful business. Selling top talent on your company is often the same as selling investors. The more that you can demonstrate that you already have the right ingredients for success, the higher a likelihood that you're going to close your recruiting pipeline.
Obviously, depending on the cash you have in the bank and expect to have in the bank will impact what kind of offer you make, and the more that you can mitigate the "going concern" risk, the more success you'll have in getting an offer accepted, but it's ultimately about convincing the talent that joining you and your team is better than any opportunity they can take, including starting their own company.
If you can't be competitive in your own backyard, I would look at hiring remote workers or look at relocating talent from less competitive markets to your own backyard and selling the lifestyle advantages of your particular city.
Recruiting top talent is a significant part of any startup CEO's job. I'd be happy to talk to you about what I've learned and share some of the tactics I've used and seen others use successfully.
The very best talent are attracted to opportunities to do something awesome with other people that they admire and respect. In building a team, it is important to be very careful about your first hires, because it is they (and what you are doing) that will attract the next.
While the recruiting process is sort of a sales process, I disagree with the idea that you will need to "sell" your vision to talent. People judge you (and your organization) by your actions, and that means you need a good vision that practically sells itself. If you are not able to convince people to join you because the opportunity is just so awesome, you may need to think about doing something else.
You will also need to build a company, a team, a culture that makes the best talent want to work there. This means having an actual structure that enables creativity and innovation, working on only focused projects with clear objectives, having an open communication and feedback process.
Money does matter, and you need to compensate great talent fairly. It is better to pay a lot for a few very senior people than an army of remote or junior contributors. This is a fatal mistake I have seen many startups make. In the end you are building a company, and companies are made of people. That should take the lion's share of both your attention and your money.
People want to be a part of something exciting that matters.
I like to position my offer to talent in such a way that they understand the impact they will have on changing the industry / world / people, etc.. .
Hope this helps.
if you do not have a lot of money you are either going to have to:
1. hire Super smart Jr people who want to prove their skills.
2. hire people in a remote location. this can be costly in it's own way.
3. offer co-founder.
either way you will have to sell yourself and your product/vision so they can image how great the system will be and how big they can imagine it.
1. Know exactly what you are looking for in skills, experience and DNA - people that do well in start-ups have a different mix than those that belong in mature/large co's.
2. Look everywhere- online, social networks, job boards, conferences, referrals, linkedin, etc.
3. Write job ads that stand out vs. typical list of job requirements (treat candidates like customer prospects and write your job ads with compelling copy)
4. Offer careers, above market comp (not necessarily cash), chance to work with a great company/management/team.
5. Never stop recruiting.
Besides what others said, try to be extra clear in communicating and measuring exactly what you mean by talent.
People don't like to waste their time and this is especially true of people with a high opportunity cost to their time. Using vague words like "ninja" doesn't clarify to top talent whether you are a culture-fit for them or whether they are a skill-fit for you. Stating explicit, objective requirements or "nice-to-haves" gives potential applicants a clear idea of their chances. It also signals that your management style will be equally clear-cut and rational.
If possible, try to devise your own interview questions and test criteria. Tests should mirror as closely as possible the work you will want the applicant to do. Try to avoid degree-based selection or other general signals. Large companies with a history of stability and truckloads of dinero are competing for those with a typically nice-looking resume. Be innovative and be accurate. Precision will earn you better matches at a lower price.
As well, try to communicate how your company culture compares to others the applicant may be employed at or applying to. Again vagueness is bad. So you should do a shallow search through other talent-bids your applicant might be reading.
Wear something Sexy.
I'm not (just) being facetious.
Wear, or present, a message about what it's like to work for your company, how that talent can grow and express themselves while working for/with you, how your company is different, how the games you want to create will be different.
consider expressing that on your website, linkedin, online gaming forums and offline gaming conventions.
Good luck !
By giving them equity stake