The Best Recruitment Firms for Startups

    Can we talk honestly to each other? Everyone thinks they hire well but lets be honest, half are above average and half are below average.

    Hiring is important for most companies but it's vital for startups. Underperformers can't hide and just one bad hire can cause real damage.

    So choosing a recruitment partner is a big decision.


    Hiring is more important than you think

    Job seekers reviewing job postings on online platforms

    The hiring process is not just about filling an open position; it’s about finding the right candidate who aligns with your company’s culture and contributes to its growth trajectory.

    This is crucial for startups, especially those in the tech industry, where the impact of each hire is significant.

    These individuals don’t just bring in their skills and expertise; they become the building blocks of the company’s culture, ethos, and future success.

    When it comes to startup recruitment, traditional methods often fall short. Startups face unique challenges and require specific expertise that most job boards or online platforms can’t provide. This is where startup recruiters come into play.

    These specialized service providers understand the startup environment and facilitate the recruitment process accordingly, offering flexibility, scalability, and a deep understanding of the tech and digital sectors.

    They not only help startups navigate the competitive talent market but also provide them with the tools and strategies they need to attract and retain the best talent.



    Embedded talent vs agency recruitment

    As a startup, choosing between recruitment models - embedded talent or agency recruitment - may seem challenging. Both models offer distinct advantages, and the optimal choice would align with your unique needs and circumstances. 

    Embedded talent, as the name suggests, involves having recruiters join your team temporarily. These talent managers understand your startup’s culture, goals, and hiring needs and work closely with you to find the right talent. However they are not incentivized for success with the monthly fee due whether or not they make great hires.

    On the other hand, agency recruitment involves outsourcing your recruitment process to recruitment agencies. These agencies have a broad network, specific function knowledge and are incentivized to make great hires (else they don't get paid!) Some benefits of agency recruitment include:

    • Speed of delivery (they will have an active network of candidates)

    • Expertise in specific sectors or industries

    • Reduced risk of bad hires given their incentives.

    However, some agencies can be self-interested, preferring to place 'good enough' candidates to gain a fee. It's also worth noting that the cost per hire is about 50% higher.

    As you expect, the right strategy is a balance. However, reputation is important.



    Berg Search - flexible talent for founders by founders





    • Small projects: From 12% per hire 

    • Long term partnerships: £1k per month + success fee from 9%


    • The only company built by successful SaaS founders. One of Berg's founders built proSapient grew to $40m revs and 300 people in 5 years! The other launched Guidepoint in Greece which grew to 140 people in 2 years

    • Executive search approach for all hires (98% success rate)

    • Affordable pricing with a success fee that incentivizes the team to work hard

    • Access to a large pool of recruiters for no additional cost (a specialist for front end, a specialist for back end, a specialist for marketing etc)


    • They don't offer an all-in monthly cost

    Berg Search distinguishes itself as a recruitment firm with a unique focus on founders. Designed by founders, for founders, Berg Search offers:

    • Flexible talent solutions that cater to the unique needs and challenges of startup founders

    • Deep understanding of the startup environment and the personal experiences of the founders themselves

    • Ability to find the right talent that aligns with the startup’s culture and vision

    Berg Search gives specific focus on the quality of hire with an exhaustive interview approach that leads to strong outcomes



    Talentful - RPO for large companies

    Startup founders discussing talent acquisition strategies


    • £12k per month per person (according to financial reports).

    • a 3 person recruitment team = £36k p/month


    • Experience with large scale-ups (Series D, enterprise) and very large projects

    • High client retention rate

    • Solid Glassdoor score of 3.7


    • Less expertise for Seed, Series A and Series B startups

    Talentful is a recruitment firm that offers recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) services, catering to larger companies with more complex hiring needs. They offer a range of services, including embedded recruitment specialists and global hiring expertise, providing a proactive approach to recruitment that encompasses future needs alongside immediate hiring requirements.

    Their high client retention rate of 95% in 2022 is impressive and they've worked for well-known tech firms including Hopin, Gorillas and Starling Bank.

    Read more about Talentful here



    Elements - RPO for large companies


    • £11,000 per person per month (based on accounts)

    • EG a 3-person team will cost £36,000 per month


    • In-house talent acquisition services

    • Diverse methods to attract and retain top talent


    • Low Glassdoor score of 2.7 (embedded talent had a very difficult 2023)

    Elements Talent Consultancy offers in-house talent acquisition services to address the substantial hiring challenges encountered by large companies, including tech startups. They employ diverse methods such as enhancing the employer brand and utilizing employee referral programs to attract and retain top talent. They've worked with companies such as Deliveroo, Binance and Spotify

    They utilise internally built technology to provide additional value with their work



    Scede - Hiring, consulting, video games

    Tech team discussing job postings and salary negotiations

    Price: On enquiry

    • Scede Embedded – a monthly fixed cost per talent partner deployed, making it a predictable, flat-fee investment for the duration of our partnership. 

    • Scede Source – pay-as-you-go with a fixed, flat fee per role we work on. Unlike recruitment agencies, we don’t take a % commission from the salary associated with the role.

    • Scede Advisory – priced on a modular basis. You simply pick and choose the modules that are a priority for you and your Talent Acquisition goals.


    • Specializes in tech companies and game studios

    • Strong in data and analytics

    • Strong Glassdoor score of 4.3


    • Limited specialization in non-tech sectors

    Scede is a recruiting firm that specializes in helping tech companies and game studios scale their teams. They offer:

    Scede’s pricing model, based on a fixed fee per embedded talent partner per month or per role per 30-day sprint, offers flexibility and transparency for startups. While their services are not the cheapest on the market, the value they provide in terms of industry expertise and tailored recruitment solutions makes them a worthy investment for startups looking to scale their teams effectively and efficiently.

    Learn more here


    Join Talent - modern RPO for enterprise

    Price: Contact for pricing


    • Solid experience working with large enterprises such as AXA, AO and Charlotte Tilbury

    • Experienced team with deep in-house experience

    • Strong Glassdoor score of 4.1


    • Little focus on start-ups

    Join Talent's core work is providing large enterprises with fractional TA support for temporary bursts in hiring. They hire exclusively experienced TA professionals who are fully remote. Their work includes:

    • Professional assistance in acquiring and engaging talent essential for business expansion

    • Hands-on delivery of recruitment and strategic consultancy to build successful teams and solutions

    • A team exclusively manned by experts with deep in-house experience

      Learn more about Join Talent here



    Scout - Flexible talent for early stage startups

    Early-stage startup team planning recruitment strategies

    Price: Contact for pricing

    • Focus Plan: Sourcing, Screening & ATS Management

    • Drive plan: Processes, Insights & candidate journey

    • Build Plan: Strategy, Training & Talent Management


    • Offers a faster, flexible, and more cost-effective way to grow teams

    • Different monthly plans based on the level of service required

    • Flexible and accommodating to customers

    • Glassdoor score of 4.5


    • Commission for high performers is £5k per year which may not be a strong enough incentivize to go above and beyond

    Scout is an embedded talent acquisition solution that offers a faster, more flexible, and more cost-effective way for companies to grow their teams. They provide different monthly plans based on the level of service required, from Focus to Drive and Build, each offering a Talent Partner who will be embedded into the company to proactively build pipelines, provide a world-class candidate journey, and manage all talent acquisition administration.

    They've worked with Multiverse, Moneybox and Treatwell amongst other companies



    Chapter 2 - Flexible talent with creative support

    Startup team building company's culture with creative support

    Price: Contact for pricing


    • Scalable talent solutions that integrate people, process, and technology

    • Puts significant emphasis into employer branding (Content Creation, Linkedin and branding)

    • Strong Glassdoor score of 4.4


    • Less focus on startups with a focus on big enterprises such as Investec and The Crown Estate

    Chapter 2 offers scalable talent solutions that integrate people, processes, and technology to accommodate specific business requirements, enabling rapid scaling for new projects. They focus on vanilla flexible talent solutions with additional creative outputs



    Troi - Best for Specialist Tech and Commercial Role Scaling

    Specialist tech team discussing role scaling for startups

    Price: Monthly subscription or pay-as-you-go


    • Specializes in scaling specialist tech and commercial roles

    • Offers flexible monthly subscription or pay-as-you-go options


    • Low Glassdoor score of 3.3

    Troi is one of the first embedded recruitment solutions on the market which helps businesses scale their hires in specialist tech and commercial roles. They offer flexible monthly subscriptions or pay-as-you-go options to save time, money, and resources. Their specialization in tech and commercial roles makes them an ideal choice for startups in these sectors.

    While their services are not the cheapest on the market, the value they provide in terms of industry expertise and tailored recruitment solutions makes them a worthy investment for startups looking to scale their teams effectively and efficiently.



    Bond - Flexible talent for ESG companies

    ESG company team focusing on cost savings and talent acquisition

    Price: Contact for pricing


    • Offers embedded talent solutions to CleanTech, BioTech, DeepTech, and Enterprise companies

    • Flexible subscription model


    • If you don't fit their industries, they may not be the right fit for you (maybe that isn't even a con)

    Bond is a global talent solutions company that helps visionaries in various sectors un-f*ck the planet. They offer embedded talent solutions to:

    • CleanTech

    • BioTech

    • DeepTech

    • Enterprise companies

    Their flexible subscription model allows companies to access their own in-house talent team, adding firepower to existing teams or building capability from scratch.



    Deciphering the Recruitment Firm Maze

    Startup team deciphering the best recruitment agencies for startups

    The recruitment firm landscape is vast and varied, with each firm offering unique services. Determining the right firm for your startup is a decision contingent on your specific needs, budget, and hiring objectives. However, don’t worry. A combination of research, strategic planning, and thoughtful analysis can guide you towards a decision that catalyzes your startup’s success.

    When reviewing the financial and contractual aspects of a recruitment agency, be sure to thoroughly assess fee structures, payment terms, and any supplementary costs like job advertising or skills assessments. Also, don’t forget to evaluate the performance and suitability of a recruitment agency by examining their success rate in filling positions and the retention rates of placed candidates post-hire.

    Keep in mind that the appropriate recruitment firm can serve as a strategic ally in talent acquisition, laying a strong foundation for your startup’s enduring success. Partnering with the best recruitment agencies ensures a seamless recruitment strategy in acquiring top talent.



    In a nutshell, the success of a startup hinges greatly on its ability to attract, retain, and nurture the right talent. And in the fast-paced and competitive startup world, recruitment firms can be the much-needed ally that helps startups navigate the talent market, build high-performing teams, and achieve their growth targets. Whether it’s embedded talent, agency recruitment, or RPO services, each model offers unique advantages that can cater to the specific needs and challenges of startups.

    While choosing the right recruitment firm might seem like a daunting task, it doesn’t have to be. By understanding your startup’s unique needs, assessing the strengths and weaknesses of different recruitment firms, and making strategic decisions, you can find a recruitment partner that not only helps you find the right talent but also sets the stage for your startup’s long-term success. So, take the leap, explore the recruitment firm maze, and find the perfect talent partner for your startup.


    Frequently Asked Questions

    How do I recruit people to my startup?

    When recruiting for your startup, make sure to define the skills you require, post clear job descriptions, and utilize both traditional job boards and custom outreach to attract potential candidates. Also, focus on hiring individuals who are committed to contributing to your company's growth. Good luck with your recruitment process!

    What is the role of recruitment firms in startup hiring?

    Recruitment firms play a crucial role in assisting startups by identifying and hiring qualified talent, and understanding the unique needs and challenges of startups. People working in startups have an extreme lack of time and so using third-party services can be critical to growing the business while keeping focus in your startup

    What are the different types of recruitment models available for startups?

    For startups, the available recruitment models include embedded talent, agency recruitment, and recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) services. Each model offers distinct advantages for acquiring needed talent within the organization.

    What factors should startups consider when choosing a recruitment firm?

    When choosing a recruitment firm, startups should consider factors such as expertise in the startup sector, success rate in filling positions, retention rates of placed candidates post-hire, and fee structure. These factors can help in making an informed decision on which firm to partner with.