How to Attract Google-Level Talent Without a Google-Level Name

by / ⠀Startup Advice / January 14, 2020
woman on notebook discussing

Google. Facebook. Amazon: According to LinkedIn’s 2019 Top Companies report, those three employers are where Americans most want to work. But if big names are all that matters, then why are so many Facebook employees throwing in the towel? Their reasons vary, but one thing is clear: Name recognition isn’t the only way Google-level talent wars are won. 

Luring Away Google-Level Talent

People who work for companies like Google and Facebook know they’re in demand. To get them to say “yes” to you for a lower salary:

1. Give them the chance to make a difference.

Believe it or not, nine in 10 American adults would take a pay cut in exchange for more meaningful work. For some, that means working at a social enterprise; for others, it’s leading an initiative they’re passionate about.

Because meaning is in the eye of the beholder, the way to sell fulfillment is to court the right person with the right role. When opportunity company Nu Skin needed someone to lead its technology transformation and strengthen its customer experience, it spotted Vince Perfetti. Formerly a principal consultant on Amazon Web Services’ cloud advisory team, Perfetti wanted a tech-culture transformation role like the ones he’d held at GE Digital and Dow Jones & Company. By custom-building his position, Nu Skin convinced Perfetti to come on board. 

2. Let them try before they buy.

Even if you have an offer letter in hand, leaving a job is risky — especially when that job is at a top-tier employer. What if the work is different than what you expect? What if the culture isn’t for you? Particularly when the money is good, those questions alone can keep workers from jumping ship.

Give prospective employees answers before expecting them to commit. To offer top talent a taste, performance video agency TubeScience uses an internal trial program. In doing so, it’s won over ex-Googlers, former Edelman workers, and Harvard Ph.D.s. Best of all, workers who complete a trial program know the company’s goals and their role from day one.

3. Offer ground-floor growth opportunities.

It’s not often that new industries open up. When they do, the result is usually a gold rush. By joining a promising employer, workers may eventually become executives or receive lucrative buyouts.

Just as the dot-com boom minted billionaires like Mark Cuban, the newly legal cannabis industry is likely to crown new tycoons. Cannabis startups like Lunchbox Alchemy have leveraged that fact to lure employees from leading consumer products companies. Operations Director Will Warren joined Lunchbox Alchemy after a stint at Nike Asia, while Sales & Marketing VP Jeff Billingsley came from MillerCoors and Deschutes Brewery. Even those budtenders and growth experts who don’t strike it big are likely to be rewarded with managerial roles or company equity. 

4. Kill their commute.

How much would you pay for a shorter trip to work? Depending on how much shorter it is, it might be worth a fifth of your salary. According to a University of the West of England study, which considered the effects of commuting on 26,000 English workers’ happiness over a five-year span, an additional 20 minutes on the road each day is equivalent to a 19% pay cut.

Some companies, like Partner Centric, have discovered that eliminating it entirely is worth even more. Before joining the fully remote digital marketing firm, Craig McGlynn, currently its vice president of revenue, worked as a senior manager at Amazon. Given that Americans’ commutes have been increasing for years and most top employers are located in major metro areas, it’s no surprise that 100% remote work is a selling point. 

Every company needs a recruitment strategy, but the centerpiece doesn’t have to be eye-popping pay. Dozens of smaller firms have siphoned off Google, Amazon, and Facebook employees with what they already have: meaningful work, industry-building opportunities, and low-stress environments. Much as the tech giants might prefer otherwise, those are selling points that no amount of money can buy.

Related Post: Talent Acquisition, Try Offering These Seven Benefits

About The Author

Kimberly Zhang

Editor in Chief of Under30CEO. I have a passion for helping educate the next generation of leaders.