Winning Top Talent Away from the Tech Giants

It’s hardly surprising that, given a chance to work in Northern California, top global talents almost always express their desire to work in San Francisco among other leading tech hubs. If the global mobility manager presses for more information, the talent might admit that their “dream job” would be landing a post on Facebook, Apple, Google, and the other giants that have been reshaping our world and economy the past few years.

Global mobility managers and recruiters who work for those firms have nothing to fear, then, as far as recruitment and retention are concerned. Up-and-coming players that have raised millions of dollars in investment, and who might have gotten featured in popular media, can also have a fighting chance.

But what about the so-called underdogs of this business, the startups and who might be doing steady business but who do not exactly have a rockstar name (not yet, anyway)?

Don’t despair, because startups do have an arsenal at their command that can lure those talents in and win them the talent war — although these business owners may not realize it yet. Giving them a positive wake-up call is Jeff Hyman, the Chief Talent Officer of Strong Suit Executive Search. The man knows whereof he speaks; his book, “Recruit Rockstars,” has come up the bestselling chart.

In a column he wrote for Forbes Magazine, Hyman points out to startups the features and qualities they do have that can bring in those rockstars — and these are areas that the giants may find themselves difficult to compete in.

Advantage #1:  The intimacy and proximity offered by small offices. The so-called eye-popping perks like tennis courts and gyms may not be within the startup’s budget, but the closeness that can be nurtured in a limited space can be invaluable.

Cubicles and open work environments built near each other can allow for dialogue and collaboration. While people tend to disappear in large enterprises and become just numbers to their colleagues, those who do interact with each other everyday can find more ways to bond and work productively.

The afternoon gossip at the water cooler can lead to a Friday night out, which might turn out to be an informal creative brainstorming that can leap to a significant professional breakthrough the next Monday. Managers and leaders, including the global mobility ones, can be more collegial with their staff.  As Marginalia points out, if people are treated genuinely like people, they stay with the company for the long haul.

Advantage #2:  Flexibility in work arrangements that can lead to employee fulfillment. The first advantage leads to this second one. Closer collaborations and a transparent atmosphere can give the global mobility manager deeper insights into their assignee’s actual talents, interests, and motivations.

Aside from the usual conversation and performance evaluation, they can actually monitor at close range the factors that can boost their talent’s performance or slow it down. An SME’s looser organization can then allow both the manager and the talent to come to a more flexible arrangement — one that can ensure productivity and deliverables for the organization, while enhancing the talent’s level of fulfillment. That talent will enter and leave the office, happy knowing that their potential are being maximized, and that they are contributing significantly to the company’s bottom line.

Advantage #3:  An efficient referral program. Your global mobility manager’s best ambassadors are the fulfilled, hardworking assignees. Once a job opening is posted, these talents will be the first to recruit their friends who happen to be kindred spirits who can also make a big difference in the company.

On another level, they also want their friends and colleagues to be given the same opportunities they are enjoying right now. Employee referral programs can be the startup’s secret weapon in recruiting:  according to FirstBird, it leads to an employee retention rate of 46 percent compared to the standard 36 percent. The global mobility manager will also be spending only a thousand dollars per hire, as opposed to the minimum of $4,000 per hire that the more traditional channels would have cost him.