It’s Not Always About the Money

How you attract and land the star candidate you want requires more than a checkbook. Without overpaying for the identified Value, how do you meet the needs of the human being you are dealing with? What value requirements does he or she have that you could fill?

  • For many top performers it’s not about money… Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter… It’s about changing the world.
  • Co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin brought Google to life in September 1998 as a means to find “information” faster on the web.
  • Jeff Bezos, whose wealth has swollen to about $95-billion from his success as CEO of bookseller, spends about 12 hours a day at work, six days a week, and helps stock shelves with his lowest-paid employees. Bezos tells them there is no time to slow down and smell the roses, because the Internet is still under construction.

Today’s knowledge workers do not want to be managed, they want to lead and to be trusted. They need to be empowered with the right information to make sound decisions, to grow the business and to be part of a community that is contributing to something worthy of their time and energy.

Listen and Learn now

In literally thousands of pages of articles, research documents, and interview transcripts, what comes through loud and clear is that the high tech industry, in its battle for human resources, has stagnated into a bidding war where the only winner is the company with the deepest pockets.

“Shrimp wars”, gift baskets ,three raises a year, beer fridges, pool tables, planes towing banners, booths set up at gardening shows, paid tuition, options, flexi-hours, and the list goes on – when does it all stop and at what point does one realize that the war, fought in this way, is lost already?

Those companies with the highest profile – Cisco, Google, Microsoft, et al. – have already won. And they’ll continue to do so until a company like yours either changes the rules or plays the game differently.

It’s Not The Money

The people who you’re after, be they Presidents OR Product Managers, define who they are by what they do – and where they do what and they do. There is nothing they love more than to face a challenge and accomplish what’s never been accomplished before. It’s how they work, play and compete among themselves.

The ability of a company to be structured in such a way that will allow the individual to succeed, as part of a team of top performers, is the key to attracting people.

Is This Person Familiar?

Let’s take a look at some of the characteristics of our target audience, by tracking a typical candidate:

In high school, “jocks” defined who they were by their athletic prowess, the “beautiful people” by their looks and charisma, and “geeks” by their seeming solitude, introverted nature, and tape-repaired glasses. Our geeks weren’t the fastest or strongest and they weren’t the most popular, but they were the smartest. They took pride in knowing that while the athlete was up collecting his trophy, the geek was the one who had to tutor him in math.

When our geek, let’s call him Steve, moved from high school to university, he found an environment in computer science or engineering which embraced who he is. He was also, for the first time in his life, surrounded by hundreds of like-minded souls. Nirvana. Steve came to realize that this environment did come with a down side: the bar was raised. He wasn’t necessarily the “smartest kid in the class”, he had competition.

Oddly enough. Steve thrived in this environment because in a way he really is no different than an athlete. He’s driven to improve his times, his scores; he’s driven to get around barriers; he’s driven to go places no one has gone before. University, and the work environment he was about to enter wants people who are competitive and Steve always pushed to find if he had what it took.

Over the course of time, Steve evolved from being the introverted, computer obsessed person he was to a still somewhat quiet, confident person who realized that the interests he’s had for so long are now highly sought after. He realized that he could share his dreams, and his journey, with a company that wanted people just like him.

Location, Location, Location

“Steves” define themselves not only by what they do but also where they do what they do.

The people like Steve know that money will come. They know that they’re highly sought after, and that should they choose to leave a company in the morning often, that same morning, they’ll be hired by someone else. This is challenging because the leverage of money that most companies use to attract people doesn’t work with our group; they’re looking for more.

Whether the person we’re speaking to is a new grad or an experienced non-executive, they’ll be most inclined to look at those companies who have the highest “cool” factor. The person that we want to speak to wants to be the best, be perceived to be the best and wants to change the world with the technology they’re working on. A lot of this will be defined, not only by what they do, but where they do what they do. There are companies out there with so much cachet that employees want people to know where they work. They are proud of working for the company and want to identify themselves with it.

The “I”s Have It

Although our audience wants to “buy in”, they also are very individualistic. We believe it’s largely because of where they’ve come from. High performance people want to be part of an elite team, but they also want to make an individual difference. The power of individual accomplishment within an organization is one of the single most important strategic elements that must come through in a pitch. People, the people that we want to talk to, need to know, for selfish and unselfish reasons, that they can make a difference.

One of the most startling things was an employee survey done at Oracle that indicated people don’t actually want to move around. As long as they can believe that they are working for and with the best, they’re happy to stay. Likewise, one of the key elements that employees look for is the training offered at a company. Essentially, what training seems to mean to these people is “marketability” should they need or want to leave a company. What both of these issues say to us is people need and want stability. People would rather deal with change in the job they do; not where they do that job.

The Price Of Playing

By and large the whole industry is playing by the same rules and, occasionally, someone does something interesting. It seems the following incentives are the price of admission for companies looking for new hires:

  • signing bonuses
  • multiple annual raises
  • options
  • a great work environment
  • a courtship process that would woo the most coy lover

The incentives above are often seen as the cost of admission — the regular price everyone has to offer to get new employees.


Every company that promotes itself effectively must make both a logical and emotional connection with the consumer. The needs of the recruit must be reflected at both an emotional and logical level, and must not present the image of a company that is boring, staid, or traditional, but present an emotionally-based image of dynamism, youth and forward movement. The emotional appeal of a company that offers individual meaning, status and project glory, can upset the conventional offers of conventional players we need look no further than the New Economy companies who have grow in successful in a short period of time.

Our audience is smart, educated, motivated and in possession of an inordinate amount of business savvy that their predecessors lacked. They represent the elite of the work force. Every technology company in every technology market wants them.

So recruiting today requires:

  • the ability to micro-target the competition’s employees where they live, not where they work
  • the opportunity to treat each potential recruit as an individual, providing a customized response tailored to their needs
  • deliver a value proposition – like an elevator pitch – focused on their needs

That’s how you increase your Value!