How startups can recruit top talent over well funded companies

Thursday Apr 10, 2014 by Ben Jabbawy - Founder & CEO, Privy

One of the things I picked up at Oasys, and has now continued with Privy, is the need to surround yourself with a team that challenges you and elevates your game, big time. In an early stage company, each hire needs to carry the weight of 3-4 full time hire responsibilities in order to move the company forward. 

I’ve certainly screwed that up several times, but we’ve now made several amazing key hires including Jenkins on the product side, and as we announced last week, Jim on sales

In both of these cases, we’re talking about incredibly talented, proven hires who had several other job offers from well funded companies, presumably with much higher salaries to offer.

So how did we compete?

Focus on your strengths and be different.

Team and Culture - In 2014, people are willing to choose less cash if they can picture themselves in an environment that makes them happy. That means they need to love the founders/management, and if early enough, they also need to love everyone else in the room.  Aside from the normal interviews, make sure your sales process incorporates some sort of mingling socially amongst the entire team and the recruit.

Opportunity - As a founder it’s important for you to understand what a potential recruits goals are in life and career, especially over the two to four year period you’ll be working together. Did they just have a kid, do they want to buy a house, do they want to be a part of something huge? At a certain point, these decisions are made as a family, not just the individual. You need to understand that dynamic.

Be different - If you’re reaching up to recruit amazing talent, this hire will likely have or soon receive other offers. How can you win them over? We recently had a recruit who just had a baby, and after giving our offer and hearing that he had several others, we wanted to do something that would make him, and his wife, laugh. So we sent him a custom bib for his daughter that read:

Meals can be messy. Choosing the right job shouldn’t be.

Simple, yet incredibly effective.

A16Z has some great thoughts on hiring as well. It’s a great post for those that have not seen it.

Ben Jabbawy is the founder & CEO of Privy.  You can find this blog post, as well as additional content on his blog located here.  You can also follow Ben on Twitter (@jabbawy) by clicking here.

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