Another brick in the wall

Every startup is a bit different, but they almost all sound the same when it comes to how they pitch candidates.

Here are a few things that you’ll commonly see:

  • We’re a startup!
  • We got funding from Sequoia
  • Andreessen Horowitz led our Series A
  • Equity 🤑
  • Uncapped commission 💰

Here’s the core problem: you’re offering that. 

But, so is every other startup.

I searched through Crunchbase for startups that:

  • Have raised at least $5m, 
  • Were founded in the last 10 years
  • Are still alive
  • Have 51+ employees
  • And are headquartered in the United States

I got 4,982 results

Sidenote: it’s true that a Tier 1 investor on your cap table DOES make recruiting easier (raising a massive round was also a very compelling point for a lot of candidates over the last few years - we’ll see if people wise up as we all adjust to the new world)

But back to the problem of thinking that this sort of thing makes you close to unique:

Sequoia has been involved in 1128 rounds of funding in the last 10 years.

Andreessen Horowitz has led 645 investments (so far).

And sure, MOST companies in the wider economy don't do any of the above. But you're not hiring the average person on the street. Most of you are looking to hire from a talent pool that's worked at venture-backed startups before.

These candidates have heard the common cliches about how {generic startup company} is offering the "chance to get in at the ground floor" at a company that's a "rocketship" and is looking for "top 10% talent". 

Let's keep the reality check going:

  • Offering uncapped commission isn't a benefit - it's a reflection that you want salespeople who are actually motivated. 
  • Equity is standard. And let's be honest... it's not that generous to the average rank & file Account Executive (such is the brutal reality of dividing a fixed pie).

So how do you get people interested in working for you? 

Get to the human level. 

It’s ok to polarize people with your company culture. 

Lots of people are now remote or bust. 

Fair enough!

Maybe you're a company focused on creating a supportive work environment for parents. 


Perhaps you're focused on working in the office everyday because you think that's how you get maximum performance. 

Good for you! 

A few weeks back I talked about Samsara - and how they built an organization that was laser focused on quota overachievement.

You'd walk into their office and past a big poster telling you about what you needed to do to get to Presidents club. 

It was a conscious choice. 

But, I’ve also heard people describe Samsara as a call-center. And not everyone wanted to work somewhere so focused on hustling.

If you've got an open role, and you're feeling lukewarm about your pipeline, set aside 30 mins. 

Open up LinkedIn and find 10 other companies hiring for a similar role. 

Read their job descriptions. 

Do they sound the same as yours?

It's important to remember that what's right for Jack is wrong for Lucy. 

The job Lucy loves is a living nightmare if you asked Ed. 

That's fine. 

Hiring is not about appealing to the masses. 

It's about finding the few who are all in with you on the journey.

And if you’d like help on how you can get hiring the right Jack, Lucy or Ed (without tying up hours of your time each week), book time to speak with me here.

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