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This article was published on March 28, 2016

How to find qualified candidates and build a more diverse startup

How to find qualified candidates and build a more diverse startup
Scott Gerber
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Scott Gerber

Scott Gerber is the founder of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most successful young Scott Gerber is the founder of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most successful young entrepreneurs. YEC members represent nearly every industry, generate billions of dollars in revenue each year and have created tens of thousands of jobs. Learn more at

Having a diverse team might be the secret to long-term success. A team built of diverse, qualified candidates offers a wide range of perspectives and insights, all of which are valuable for building the best product possible.

But how do you find these candidates? Below, a number of entrepreneurs from YEC – all of whom have built successful, thriving businesses – weigh in on the following question.

What’s your best tip for sourcing diverse, qualified candidates?

Their best answers are below:

1. Scour LinkedIn

Matt DoyleThis doesn’t have to be just LinkedIn. Use any network that allows profiles you could use to set up a more diverse team. Reach out to the candidates you’re interested in and let them know that you’ll be interviewing. Also remember that no one wants to be a “diversity pick.” They want the respect they’ve earned as someone judged on their own merits, and the final hiring decision should be made on that merit. – Matt DoyleExcel Builders

2. Browse freelance marketplaces

Peter DaisymeI have found some extraordinary people through the growing number of online marketplaces for freelance talent. These marketplaces provide access to candidates from all over the world with varied backgrounds, levels of experience and perspectives that have helped create an extraordinary team. I particularly like Toptal, iFreelance and Upwork. – Peter DaisymeHosting

3. Focus on attitude rather than skill

Joe ApfelbaumSometimes the best way to get the right person on board is to focus on attitude and then teach skill. There are many people who are super qualified to do what you want them to do, based on their attitude. You can get away with having an amazing person if you are willing to train them in your industry. Many entrepreneurs are so focused on skill and forget that you can’t teach attitude. – Joe ApfelbaumAjax Union

4. Expand your requirements

Elle KaplanMany are surprised that I don’t require previous finance experience for some roles at LexION Capital. But I’ve found that if you get the right hire, any procedure and skill can be picked up easily. A diverse staff brings a patchwork of perspectives and they’ll be excited to generate creative, inventive solutions. Fresh to the world of finance, they often have different ways of looking at our problems. – Elle KaplanLexION Capital

5. Create an ad that speaks to the people you want to hire

Ajay GuptaWe’ve all heard that you have to spend money to make money, and that same theory can be true when it’s applied to hiring the right team members. When you want to sell something to your target market you create an ad set that speaks to them. So when you want to hire a diverse team, an easy way to source new talent is to place display ads in front of them following those same guidelines. This is something we’ve done in the past, utilizing our digital advertising platform to reach the people we want. – Ajay Gupta, Stirista

6. Be active in diversity-focused communities

Tarek PertewThere are so many amazing communities that gather with relative frequency on Meetup, like Black Technology Professionals or Women Who Code. Sponsor these groups and/or encourage diverse members of your team to attend, contribute and meet new folks. – Tarek PertewUncubed

7. Build a virtual bench

Joel StolteRather than waiting until a position opens and hiring a recruiting firm to source diverse candidates, keep a list of all the rock stars you come across and match them to key positions that you anticipate opening up in the future. Many of these candidates will have jobs already, but keeping track of them and staying in touch will give you a huge advantage when you’re ready to grow your team. – Joe StolteRallysong

8. Think globally

Marcela DeVivoCollaborative software has created an opportunities to create global workforces, using the most talented employees from a variety of locations. We use Podio to organizecandidates and keep information on applicants for various positions. When we need to search for talent, we use local universities in different countries (our current favorite is Colombia) to find candidates with great potential. – Marcela DeVivoHomeselfe

9. Source from regional and professional chapters online

Peggy ShellWith LinkedIn, Connectifier and even Facebook, sourcing candidates is now more accessible for any company that is hiring. Various chapters of national and international organizations create location-based groups on these platforms. Connect with them and you will have a wider pool of candidates for a range of skills and professions, most likely from different backgrounds. – Peggy ShellCreative Alignments

10. Think outside of the box

Clayton DeanFinding diverse and qualified candidates can be a challenge in today’s market, so thinking outside of the box is key. I’ve had success sourcing candidates on Reddit, where young and talented people spend a lot of time. Find an active subreddit that is related to your job description and get creative to see who is interested and available. From entry-level to MBAs, you’ll find it all. –Clayton DeanCirca Interactive

11. Check out dedicated platforms

Nathalie LussierDiverse means different things to different people, but if you want to hire more women on your development team, then you’ll want to check out the PowerToFly platform. It’s designed to connect employers with tech-savvy women who are looking for work. There are lots of companies looking to diversify their teams choosing to work with this platform. – Nathalie LussierAmbitionAlly

12. Diversify your recruiting sources

Brett FarmiloeIf you want diverse candidates, then diversify the sources where you recruit. Make a list of all the sources you currently use to fill your talent pool. Add to the list each time you add to the team to experiment with one to three different sources or tactics. Track your results, and see if your “experiment sources” helped diversify the recruitment process. Rinse and repeat for different hiring cycles. – Brett FarmiloeMarkitors

13. Post positions through social media

Leila LewisPost your job search on social media! Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn are all great ways to send a message to a diverse crowd. When we have posted that we were searching for interns on our Instagram, we received applications from many amazing and diverse candidates. – Leila LewisBe Inspired PR

Read next: 6 tips for success in the quest for your dream job