Waging A War For Talent

Editor’s note: Josh Bear is the COO of Jivaro Professional Headhunters.

We live and work in an age of mass competition and where the ability to land top talent can have as much of an impact on the success of the company as the product line itself.

As companies of various shapes and sizes jockey for position in a constantly shifting tech market, there is a subtle, yet intense battle waging for talent. However, what was once hidden in the shadows has now come screaming to the front lines and today, more than ever, the war for talent has taken center stage.

The ability to innovate has given way to the ability to execute, and now the core strength of a company is found in the depth and talent of its team. As companies like Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Twitter and Apple make a modern-day land grab for talent, it leaves the “little guy” fighting for whatever scraps fall from the talent table of the “big boys.”

With name-brand recognition, a pool of hiring resources and deeper pockets, it has at times appeared to be a one-sided battle with the big companies that impose their will as they see fit. With no hiring compass to turn to, and little direction to follow, the smaller companies constantly find themselves out-worked, out-hustled and out-bid for today’s top talent.

What has become clear today is that the process of recruiting talent in the tech industry demands a clear and concise plan of attack. Knowledge is power and the more you know about clients that you are trying to recruit, the better the odds will be in your favor. You will need to arm yourself with an understanding of what is important to the candidate. This knowledge will ultimately be the key piece of information in the process. Why are they on the market? What are they looking for in their next job? What motivates them? What makes them tick? What makes them tock?

It’s important in recruiting to understand what tools you have at your disposal and to fully use them to your advantage. When a big company has a slow and passive process, you can act quickly and aggressively. Where they might find themselves tied up in red tape, you can swiftly slice through any delays to move forward.

Yes, they will have better benefits. And yes, they will have a better vacation policy. But you can offer the ability to make a direct impact on the future success of the company. They will offer a larger base salary and a handsome bonus plan. You will offer the type of equity package that people retire off of. They will offer a fancy bus to chauffeur candidates to work. You will offer the ability to directly influence the office culture. They will offer a nice corner office. You will offer intimate work relationships that last outside of a cubicle.

For every perk they offer, you must find a way to counter. For every incentive in their offer, you must find a way to make it even sweeter.

As one of the smaller companies, you will rarely be able to simply outbid the bigger ones for talent, as they have more money and aren’t afraid to use it. This will require an honest internal assessment of both your strengths as well as your weakness as a company, because both will be exploited throughout the process.

Despite your founders, funding and market space, at times you may not be viewed as stable. The sad and misguided truth is, that the smaller you are, the riskier you will be viewed and the greater your struggle will be to land top-tier talent.

However, despite what at times will appear to be insurmountable odds against an overwhelming enemy, if you simply take time to know your target candidate and build a relationship based on the things that are important to them, you will significantly increase your chances of convincing them to join. If a candidate is driven by the allure of a big company, and if their primary reason for looking for a new job is purely financial, is this really the candidate you’re looking for?

Whether you like it or not, you are in the middle of a war for talent with Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Twitter and Apple among others. They are well aware that they are at war with you, and they are using every tool at their disposal to guarantee their victory. Isn’t it time that you do the same and level the playing field?