Startups: How to Compete for Talent

Couldn’t say it better myself:

Coming into 2020, I think startups’ best bet is to make the most of the variables they can control outside of money and perks (if you lack the appropriate resources).

This means being transparent and honest with candidates about all risks involved when joining a startup and factoring all this into the amount of equity they offer which should be something considerable.

Equity agreements should not be intentionally confusing or designed to screw over employees.

Moreover, it’s in their best interest to be crystal clear about their core values, their product, and why they think the candidate should care about the work they’re doing.

In this way, the relationship between a startup and their early employees is seen as what it truly is — a genuine partnership between two parties trying to make a difference.

via zainamro

… but, I’ll add some more colorful commentary. Maybe.

I’m in the middle of recruiting Engineer Zero for my startup and I can say that the above, aforementioned advice, is not just a good idea for early-stage companies—it’s really the only effective way at recruiting talented folks!

One should always be “transparent” and “honest” and intentionally design their recruitment in ways that are “crystal clear” and anything but opaque. Building a “genuine” relationship is the only way a startup can truly make it out the door, let alone build a product (and business) that will function and endure for the long-term!

Notice how I used the word “long-term” because any group of folks can come together and build shit—this is why hackathons are so fun!

But it’s entirely different to build an enduring business. That requires a long-term commitment to people and the relationships that bind them. That’s really, really, really hard to do and if it doesn’t start out “genuine” then it’s practically impossible to fix this later down the road.

I believe that the reason I’ve been able to recruit successfully is because my default is to be transparent, honest, and open. Does that always translate to being genuine? I’m not sure, but, I think it’s working.

Larger companies also, on the whole, cannot compete with a high-touch, high-communication type of candidate experience. This is probably where most early-stage startups have an edge as they can dedicate their entire team’s time to making their process exceptionally educational, revealing, and fun.

I can do things with (and for) my candidates that I know the bigger companies simply can’t do, like, provide a truly bespoke onsite experience for each candidate.

Most larger companies also follow a heavily automated workflow and essentially “agnostic” experience that’s universally shared between departments. Consequently, they systematically remove a lot of the human “touch” out, due to time constraints, workflow requirements, and politics (if we’re to be honest).

Everyone gets the “same” experience which, in the end, isn’t super-compelling and definitely doesn’t speak to each candidate’s personal needs or preferences.

A startup can be agile in every way, shape, and form, including (and especially) in the hiring process. And, if you can hire well, then, you’re on your way to a successful and enduring and fun company.

Or, at the very least, you’ve dramatically increased your odds—I’ll take any and all the help I can get.