I see many startups with open positions, but when I speak to them I seem to always get the same response: "We are just a startup, we don't have any money to pay you (but please forward me the resume)."
Is there any way to successfully place a candidate with a startup.. and get paid?
Yes, but be ready to be creative, as far as fee amounts, schedule of payment, and the like..
I for sure wouldn't just send a resume over, hoping for the best. I would type up a candidate summary, leaving out the contact info, and tell the company this is the sort of candidate I have, how can we work together? then just sit there on the phone, listening to the crickets until he talks.
Anything other than " we normally pay X percentage" or "we always pay X flat fee" or "we can pay x, but we need you to bill us in three installments" means you should drop them like a hot rock.
A skill all recruiters should develop is this - learning to take the words you hear and read, and determine if you are talking to a rational adult, and if you are being dealt with seriously.
If I heard "We are just a startup, we don't have any money to pay you (but please forward me the resume)" I wouldn't bother with them..maybe call every six months to see if they are ready to do anything, but I would look elsewhere.
FWIW, I had one software company I worked with that was a VC funded startup, in my niche..they were fine with paying a 25% fee, but they wanted a 90 day guarantee..I solved it this way - I had them pay me half on the start date, and the other half was due on the 90th day..if the guy flaked and bailed before the 90th day, the company kept the other half of the fee..no way was I working my ass off, making the placement, then waiting out the 90 days to see any money. I was the first recruiter they met who basically offered a payment plan option, and I already knew their industry, so we lived happily ever after and I built their sales team.
So it can work if you are flexible, and of course are dealing with people who take you seriously. I'm not opposed to dumbing it down to romper room levels:
"have you ever worked with a recruiter before"?
"Are you open to working with one now"?
" Do you have a policy regarding the fees you pay recruiters"?
I may not ask these all in a row, but they get asked...I get any nonsense, they're out.
You sign a bank note for a line of credit. Then you know how long you have to make it work. You don't sleep, you work weekends. When you start making placements you rathole every dime that doesn't have to go to pay operating expenses. You live on ramen noodles like you did in college for three or four months until the first check comes in the door. That's when you can take a breath, but only one breath. There is no alternative but to make it work. The other alternative is to have enough cash to live on for 6 months to a year or a backer who doesn't expect a return for a year. You get it going enough that there are not even enough hours in the day or night to take care of the business, then you hire another recruiter who can make it for 3 or 4 months without starving to death. And the beat goes on. After five years with the banknote finally paid off you get to take the second breath, think you have it under control. Then there is a damn recession and you do it all over again.
Or go find a real job. :)
You can always ask for stock in the company....