Attracting people to join your project, startup or organisation

(Diesen Artikel gibt es auch auf deutsch.)

People are what makes a project come alive.

On our journey so far, we have seen three pathways through which people become interested in joining our team:

1. A compelling Purpose

Our company’s purpose is explicit: “Purposeful Organisations in which people love to work.”

When the organisation’s purpose is clear and compelling, it acts as an attractor: Even with an unclear product offering, people show up and say: “hey, this is interesting! What do you do? How can I contribute?”

These people will sometimes join independent of the currently available “jobs”. They are not picky about what exactly they will be doing, as long as it contributes to a meaningful cause.

When invited, these people will often bring in their personal special skills and creativity, which can lead to new directions, innovation in the products, and… interesting tensions. :)

2. Interesting Work

What is the actual work that needs to be done? What is the job?

Some people are drawn to specific types of work, specific activities  and want to develop professionally in these. Some of our current and former team members found us through this: they noticed some of our role role descriptions or job offerings and applied towards these.

We make an effort to write our job openings as clearly as we can, and to speak openly about our ongoing work where this is possible, to invite the right people.

For these people, the company appears primarily as a field in which to develop their skills. As a team, we need to check

  1. if they resonate well enough with our purpose
  2. if they integrate well enough with our people,

-both, because we would like be sure that they can be satisfied in the long-term. For short term opportunities, these aspects can be emphasized less.

We would like to offer more opportunities for skilled professionals to join us, even temporarily. We are thinking about listing our stockpile of Someday/Maybe projects online and see if we can attract people who have the experience and drive to work on it. Watch this space. :)

3. Inspiring social context

Inspiring people attract other inspiring people. Some people found us through personal connections to members of our team.

A special experience for me was when I advertised our open positions on my personal Facebook page and got a recommendation from a contact I had just met. The recommended person joined us for a meeting only a few weeks later!

I have also been open about my work with Structure & Process in my professional communities: Delphine, our newest partner, joined us from the “Going Solo” Freelancer Community, that we have both been part of since 2008.

As a recommendation, I would say:

Show off who is on your team! Ask your team to use their personal communication channels, online and offline, to invite people to join the organisation!

Bringing people onto the team, who are attracted by members of your team as people can be smooth. However, we have found it important to test

  1. how they connect with the rest of the team
  2. how they connect to the organisation’s purpose
  3. how they actually perform their work.

This maintains the focus on working-towards-a-purpose in the context of the project / organisation.


No path is “best”, and in the end, all aspects – purposefulness, passion for work and social connections – must be in balance. However, it makes sense to use these lenses when specifically searching for people to join you, to make more precise and more engaging invitations. The lenses may also help to bring light to blind spots one can develop, when the connection through one of the aspects is particularly strong.

What are ways how you have attracted people to join your startup, project or organisation?

Thank you

Rob van den Brand contributed to this article – thank you! Thank you too to Christian Kreutz, who had the right questions at the right time and helped me clarify the structure of my thinking. Check out his and his team’s presentation / invitation at WeThinq- Social Software for Change Makers. Our own job offers / invitations to join us are at

This article is also available on Medium.

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