No matter your position or industry, hiring can be painful. On average, each corporate job posting attracts 250 résumés. That's a lot of time to review résumés, let alone interview candidates and deliberate with colleagues.

When your company is small and not well known, it's even more of a challenge. A 2015 Bank of America survey found that small-business owners struggled to hire the right talent:

  • 45 percent cited that salary expectations were too high.

  • 29 percent believed candidates preferred to work for a large or midsize brand.

  • 26 percent said candidates wanted benefits they did not provide.

To compete with the big players, you must find a way to focus on the opportunities and experience your company offers candidates.

Here's how to recruit top talent as a fast-growing -- but small -- startup.

1. Offer stock options at the ground level.

Here's one of bootstrapping's benefits. I can give all full-time employees shares at the ground level. That way, if we're acquired or go through an IPO, all employees have the chance to make it big.

That opportunity increases significantly as we grow from my team's hard work, thus giving everyone more ownership over the company's destiny.

2. Already have a tight-knit, fun, smart team.

At a startup -- especially in the early days --  you'll likely be working with a small team. In a small-team dynamic, each person has greater presence and influence. This is both a blessing and a curse. But when you have a great team already at your company, it's a great recruitment tool.

If all team members are engaged and excited about work, you can showcase an environment (the right) candidates will want to work in.

To achieve this, hire for the right culture fit. In a small team, a cultural misfit is all the more noticeable. For my team, that means candidates who are passionate about their craft, care about making an impact, and are excited about learning. I also look for a bit of quirkiness, too. It makes things more fun.

3. Give complete ownership of a business area.

By the nature of a startup, there will be endless amounts of work to do and few hands to do it. This can be overwhelming to some, but it can be a fantastic opportunity for others. If you can give a new employee full ownership over an area of the business, communicate it right off the bat. This is a huge selling point.

The opportunity to independently develop, manage, and be held accountable for a strategy provides massive career growth. And it's the type of opportunity that doesn't often come up in a larger company.

4. Offer work on cool, challenging problems.

Here's another way to showcase opportunity over brand name. Offer interesting and unique challenges someone can really sink their teeth into. Know your niche and sell it.

For us, our niche is our global reach. When recruiting our current content manager, she knew she could write and publish blog articles for any tech company, but at LogoMix, she could develop and launch a company's first global content marketing strategy. That was unique, and it was too good an opportunity to pass up.

5. Remember to hire for the right reasons.

It's easy to get overexcited about a rock-star candidate. But at the end of the day, you need to be a great fit for them. Ask questions about what they're looking for in their next role, and learn about their work environment preferences.

Sometimes, we find people who would be fantastic for us, but we're just not what they're looking for in a company. We don't try to convince them otherwise.

If you want to retain your team, look for a mutually beneficial relationship for the long term.

How to Hire the Best People When You Don't Have Money or a Reputation
Published on: Feb 22, 2018