Terp Toolkit: How To Attract & Hire The Right Talent

Terp Toolkit highlights resources for starting your business.  Interested in additional business guidance or have a startup idea? Come to Dingman Fridays for feedback from our experienced venture mentors, or consider applying to our Fearless Founders accelerator. You can also learn about the startup world and discover stories from real founders through our Bootstrapped podcast and Washington Post: Business Rx index.

by: Eric Elliot

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Resources to Help Find Talent:

  • Utilize Teachers and Mentors – Teachers and mentors are a fantastic resource to utilize when it comes to finding new talent. Not only will they have extensive networks that they can pull from, but if you both get along well, they’ll probably go out of their way to find someone that fits the needs of your startup. At the very least, they’ll keep their eye out for anyone they run into that could help you out.
  • Find Relevant Channels – There are a multitude of different mediums that you can use to attract talent. If you’re a student, for example, take advantage of the opportunities and communities within your school: reach out to the business clubs on campus, participate on social media and job boards, attend events that will allow you to meet and recruit potential talent, etc. Being proactive will go a long way in building awareness for your startup and attracting the right personnel. In addition, check out the various jobs and events around MD through the Dingman Center’s biweekly newsletter, The Pitch.
  • Go to Startup & Networking Events  – Take advantage of networks and talent pools in your area! Go to local startup and networking events and connect with other entrepreneurs and business people. Attendees at these events are usually more than happy to help younger startups trying to grow, and they’ll often have a vast wealth of contacts with the skills you’re looking for that they can put you in touch with.
  • Leverage Your Own Personal Network –  When it comes to hiring talent, consider who’s already within your own personal network. Do you already know someone who has the skills you’re looking for? Do any of your friends know someone that you could get in touch with? Have you looked through your LinkedIn connections and reached out? You know a lot more people than you think, so take time to go through your connections and explore the options already open to you.

Things To Consider When Hiring:

  •  Focus on Passion Over Talent –  Be wary of hiring somebody based just on their talents alone. While it may be great for someone to have a 4.1 GPA, tons of experience and plenty of accolades, if the desire and vision aren’t there, they aren’t going to be the best possible fit for your startup. You can always teach someone job skills, but passion for a business or industry is innate.
  • What You Can’t Offer In Salary, You Can Offer In Experience – As a startup, it’s more than likely that you won’t be able to pay a new hire an extensive amount of money. Most people will probably understand this when applying, but let candidates know that they’ll have an actual impact with real and visible effects on your company. They’ll play a vital role in shaping the success of your business, and the experience that they’ll gain from working for you will be invaluable to them in the future.
  • Timing Is Critical – Timing plays a huge role in determining whether or not your hire will be successful. If you hire someone too early, you run the risk of not having a suitable infrastructure for them to work within. If you hire them too late, however, then you may miss key opportunities to use your new hire that you could’ve capitalized on earlier. The best time to hire someone is right before you actually need them, so to take steps to ensure that you’re hiring the right personnel at the right time.


Eric Elliot is the Marketing Intern at the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship. Eric is currently a junior pursuing a degree in Marketing at the Robert H. Smith School of Business and is part of the Strategic Design and Innovation Fellows. In his spare time, you can find Eric reading, drinking coffee, or playing the newest video games.


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