When building a company, the first few hires will likely be people already known and trusted by the founding team. But soon, there’s a need to go beyond personal networks. Accessing and hiring top talent is essential for growth and success. 

This article equips startup founders with the strategies and tools necessary to effectively tap into diverse talent pools and make informed hiring decisions.

Plan Before You Start

Someone from outside your network may hesitate to join your company and role without a solid understanding of the opportunity. Before starting your search, it’s important to think deeply about the role you are hiring for and its place within your organization. 

In today’s job market, candidates are informed and curious. They have endless pools of information to understand the market, the industry, feedback from your employees, and how best to interview and drive negotiations. This means you must be ready for their questions and areas of interest. Potential hires prioritize the work they will be doing, the culture in which they do that work, and the company’s vision and growth trajectory. It’s vital to effectively communicate these aspects to candidates and incorporate them into the hiring process. 

A common mistake among founders is presuming candidates will automatically be drawn to their company solely because of their belief in it. Rather than just sharing a job description, work to have a compelling pitch that puts the candidate at the center.

Craft a Candidate Profile

Next, decide on your ideal candidate. Sticking to familiar backgrounds or prestigious schools is tempting, but thinking broadly is more beneficial. Focus on the specific skills and experiences that are crucial for the role and consider career paths that lead to those qualifications. This might mean looking for candidates with different backgrounds than your current team, bringing new perspectives and expertise to your company. Now it’s time to reach out!

Explore Multiple Outreach Channels

Founder-Led Cold Outreach: Embrace LinkedIn as your ally. Founders often captivate candidates best, so craft a brief message introducing your company, the role, and its impact. Bonus points if you explain why you believe they’d be a good fit. Be sure to leverage your existing connections for intros to their network for potential candidates. Here’s an example from Next47 portfolio company, Vitally:

How To Access And Hire Top Talent Outside Your Network

Referrals and Networking: Your employees are invaluable promoters; use them! Encourage your team to share your roles with their networks, including alumni groups and Slack communities. Not everyone is comfortable reaching out, so support initiating these connections by sharing your outreach message and equipping them with as much information as possible. Check out this example from a new hire at Tractian

How To Access And Hire Top Talent Outside Your Network

Outside Recruiter: Hiring a recruiter/agency can be a great way to expand your candidate pool. Yes, it involves some costs, but the right recruiter can bring in top-tier candidates you might not find on your own. Look for recruiters who specialize in startups or the specific roles you’re hiring for, as they’ll better understand your needs.


Having a well-defined plan and clear communication is crucial to successfully hiring beyond your personal network. Create a detailed candidate profile, use personalized outreach, leverage your current team’s networks, and consider professional recruiters. By following these steps, you’ll be able to attract and hire the best talent, ensuring your company’s growth and success.