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Startup Guides 5 min read

How to hire on a startup budget

Published:  Jul 11, 2023
Adriano Herdman, Move
Adriano Herdman

We’re back with the recruitment experts to hear their advice on hiring when working within financial constraints. Adriano Herdman is the co-founder of Move, the talent acquisition consultancy that puts together exceptional teams tailored to startups and scale-ups.

Read more from Adriano: How to get your first hire right

As a startup, you know that a company’s budget doesn’t define its level of success. So let’s look at how you can find exceptional talent without breaking the bank on expenses.

The secret to hiring on a budget is about looking beyond the numbers and understanding your hiring procedures on a deeper level.

Let’s talk about the power of building up your employer branding, where to look for candidates, and how to make smart investments (of both time and money) into your hiring processes.


Create a compelling brand narrative

Hiring isn’t unlike marketing. Sure, you’re looking for the right people to fill the right roles, which involves a level of effort you definitely can’t expect from your customers.

But don’t forget that candidates are vetting you as well – and you need to sell yourself to them. Why should they join you? What’s your mission? Is there anything unique about you, for example are you approaching the market from a different angle?

These things matter. Stepping up your employer branding can be done entirely for free – it just needs some investment in effort.

Here are the important steps to building a brand narrative.

Create a culture deck

This is an aesthetically pleasing PDF that outlines your mission, goals and values. A great deck should also include your Employee Value Proposition (EVP), which explains what you offer to help your employees thrive.

For some extra tips, see what my business partner and co-founder of Move, Chris Haslam, has to say about creating an amazing culture deck:

How To Create A Good Culture Deck

Build an attractive careers page

People want to know what they’re getting themselves into. Your careers page is where you lay it all out on the table.

Let’s take Bread Financial as an example. From the get-go, their careers page is extremely candidate-centred. The company tells you:

  • They love to see you flourish both as an employee and as a human
  • They offer specific benefits that come as part of the job
  • You’ll have the opportunity to join Business Resource Groups, an Associate Apprenticeship Program, and a Development Experience Program

And once you click on Explore Open Roles, you’re met with an enthusiastic “Come grow with us!” and an upbeat video that goes in more depth about the company’s culture.

The requirements and job specifications don’t appear until you search for specific job titles that fit your area of expertise.

It’s an amazing first impression, and focuses attention on all the perks the company can provide to the right candidate.

Budget-friendly tip
You don’t need to spend thousands to get a great careers page. Notion offers some amazing free or cost-effective templates you can start using right now.

Establish an engaging and active LinkedIn page

Don’t underestimate the power of LinkedIn. The way you present yourself on social media is a story in and of itself. And any prospective hire is going to head straight to your profile for more information about your company.

Don’t think of LinkedIn as just a place to broadcast and sell your product and service. You’ll get better engagement when you engage with your industry’s community yourself. A good rule of thumb to help you grow an authentic brand presence on LinkedIn is to follow the 3-2-1 rule for your posts.

This means, every week your content mix should include:

  • 3 content pieces about industry news
  • 2 pieces celebrating team accomplishments
  • 1 piece that showcases the product, service or solution you provide


Where to look for exceptional talent, without paying giant fees

Now that you’ve created a captivating story of who you are and what you do, it’s time to start looking for people.

Job boards

Obviously, you know what a job board is. You might have even used it in the past. Job boards can be very effective when it comes to finding new employees… except there’s one problem.

They’re expensive.

Putting a job advert up can cost hundreds of pounds for one single month, so if you’re on a tight budget, it’s understandable that this option doesn’t seem very viable.

But hold on! Before you give up, have a read through the following list. These job boards are either free or relatively cheap to post on.

If you’re looking for a software engineer, try:

If you’re looking for a salesperson, try:

If you’re looking for a general platform, try:


Write inclusive ads
Make sure your job specification is as gender-neutral as possible. This opens up your pool of applicants and stops you inadvertently putting off candidates. Our favourite tools include Totaljobs Gender Bias Decoder and Gender Decoder to help you avoid adding accidental bias to your ads.


Job boards aren’t the only way of getting the word out there. Sending direct messages on LinkedIn can be just as effective, and it’s free.

Let’s circle back to Chris Haslam for more advice:

How To Create A Routine For Contacting Candidates

When you’re crafting your messages, feel free to follow our template:

Hi {{ first,name}},

I noticed in your profile that you’re a <personalise based on exp> and are interested in <personalise base on skills>, so thought you could be a great fit for {{job.title}} here at {{}}.

We’re {{company.value.prop}} and we pride ourselves on {{evp}}. You’ll be {{what.they’}} but what might be of interest is {{role.value.proposition}}.

I’d love to tell you more. Does this sound of interest?



Referral schemes

Keep your team engaged. The more people are on the hunt for exceptional talent, the higher your chances of building a successful team.

Encourage your employees or contractors to look for candidates by setting up a referral scheme. This doesn’t always have to involve a hefty monetary bonus – you could reward successful referrals through experiences, vouchers, certificates, or even just public praise.


Hire smarter

Remember the power of sourcing and pipelining. Stay on the lookout for new talent – even before new roles open up. This ensures you’re never caught off guard and always have a group of engaged individuals to hire.

Invest in a high-quality CRM (Candidate Relationship Management) tool. A CRM is a platform where you can store and process everything connected to hiring, from job ads and a careers page to pipelining and data analysis.
There are some cheaper ones on the market that’ll do the job well and keep things hassle-free. Trust me, the investment in a CRM is well worth the time you’ll save in hiring admin.

Don’t forget to measure how successful your hiring process is. Keeping tabs on everything will make it much easier to understand what works and what doesn’t. Then you can avoid making the same mistakes twice, and double-down on what’s proven to work.


Hiring exceptional talent on a budget is challenging, but not impossible

As long as you hone your brand narrative, invest in high-quality online representation, and keep looking for potential candidates, you’re bound to build a team that drives your startup to new heights.

Move's TAaaS ('Talent Acquisition-as-a-Service') ensures you get it right when you most need to. As an embedded recruitment company, we’re experts at securing top talent that thrives in early-stage tech businesses. Similar to top recruitment agencies in London, we have an amazing network of candidates - but, unlike them, we work on a fixed cost basis, which means we’re typically 63% less expensive than traditional recruitment agencies. Think RPO recruitment with better bedside manner 🥳

Plus, we’ll set you up for hiring success so you can do it without us in the future. No long contracts. Guaranteed hires. Don't take our word for it, check out our our testimonials.
Adriano Herdman, Move

Adriano Herdman

Co-founder of Move, embedded talent consultancy. Faster, more efficient talent acquisition for Seed to Series C tech companies.
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