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Clearly, lots of people are looking for jobs. The unemployment rate is 7.9 percent, which does not take into consideration people with jobs who want a new one. But many companies are strapped for cash, particularly startups just getting off the ground. So we asked some of America’s top young entrepreneurs: What’s your top tip for recruiting rock-star talent to your brand-new business when salary money is tight?

The Perk of Autonomy
“Salary isn’t everything, and talented individuals thrive on interesting work, challenges, and the opportunity to make a big impact. You can recruit top talent by giving newcomers a lot of autonomy to execute upon what they think is important and supporting them however you can. Of course, equity ownership (in the form of options or restricted stock) also helps.”

Matt Mickiewicz | Cofounder, Flippa and 99designs

Pitch the Vision
“If you have a vision, people will want to work with you to be a part of your cause, even if you don’t have money. You must be really clear on what you are creating and where you are going, and be able to clearly communicate that to other people. Not everyone’s highest value is money. Some people want to make a difference or be a part of something grand. So paint it beautiful.”

Louis Lautman | Founder, Supreme Outsourcing

Freedom Is Valuable
“The life in a startup doesn’t always pay well, but there are other intangibles that far outweigh the financial hurdles. Working for a startup gives your staff freedom—freedom to work from home, freedom to introduce their own ideas, and freedom to truly grow exponentially in their role with your business. Don’t discount these other important factors.”

Matt Cheuvront | Founder, Proof Branding

Bonuses and Incentives
“If the prospect is truly a rock star, he or she will be more interested in equity, bonuses, and other performance-based incentives. These employees are inherently hard workers that are driven by passion. If you can leverage that passion for their own success, they will be very comfortable with the compensation arrangement. ”

Logan Lenz | Founder and president, Endagon

Individualized Offers
“Tailor your offer accordingly. Not everyone is focused squarely on cash, so find out what else they desire. It could be flexible hours, a piece of the action, the nature of the project itself, or even an innovative challenge. Learn what they want and shape your package to them.”

Nicolas Gremion | CEO,

Perks and Promises
“Business rock stars want their talent to be recognized and to receive perks as if they were a Grammy winner. The obvious: equity options, profit sharing, flexible hours, mentorship, deferred compensation plan. The creative: sports/concert tickets, annual fundraiser for their favorite charity, dry-cleaning pickup, dog-walking service, weekly car wash. Thoughtfulness doesn’t have to be expensive.”

Evan Kirkpatrick | CEO, Wendell Charles Financial

Grab the Graduates!
“We strive to find great people straight out of school; this strategy works well on several levels. First, recent grads have fewer living expenses and are usually looking for a starting-level salary. Second, we want to find people who are passionate, even if they are less experienced—but who have the ability to learn quickly.”

Justin Beck | Cofounder and CEO, PerBlue

Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast
“People want to work for companies that truly care about them. So get clear on your culture values and what you stand for as a company. How do you invest in your employees? How are you working to make the world a better place? For many people, the rewards of belonging to something larger than themselves is priceless.”

Michael Margolis | President, Get Storied

Beneficial Positions
“I recruit talent by emphasizing benefits and building solid relationships. Our company is entirely virtual, which is a draw for many folks who don’t want to relocate or commute to work every day. In our job listings, we make this benefit clear. I also try to connect with young PR professionals on LinkedIn and Twitter in order to have a talent pool to draw from when we do have an opening.”

Heather Huhman | Founder and president, Come Recommended


Green Candidates Are Worth the Investment
“The employment market is filled with highly skilled workers who are demanding below-market compensation. Your best bet is to cast a wide net with your job listing and solicit as many résumés as possible. I have personally found the best talent looking in the most uneducated areas. Look for personality and attitude, not experience and skills. You can teach experience and skills, but not attitude.”

Lucas Sommer | Founder CEO, Audimated

Create High Value
“For many, the idea of working for a startup is exciting and a chance to create a space in a company versus being one of the sheep in a herd. By creating high value for those individuals and creating a space that is attractive, you can bring in top talent who are there long-term, instead of for just a “job.” Make your business a place that you would be excited to work so the passion pours out.”

Erin Blaskie | CEO, BSETC

Raise Their Voices
“Hire people that don’t see money as their No. 1 motivator. Some of the best talent that I have hired is people that want to feel like they have a say and are part of something growing.”

John Hall | CEO, Digital Talent Agents

Stay Far Away!
“Calling talent you’re recruiting “rock stars” is an amateur move and red flag to good people. Rock stars are needy, self-centered egotists. Do you really want to hire the drunken guy who only eats blue M&Ms? Some of the best talent you need for a startup are the exact opposite: humble, hard-working, team-first individuals who care more about the vision and opportunity than their own gain.”

Jason Evanish | Cofounder, Greenhorn Connect