Sourcing Top Companies and the Source of My Despair...

One of the first questions when we’re working with new companies/hiring managers is the type of companies they're interested in hiring from.  I find myself taking a deep breath before I hear the inevitable… "We need people from top schools/companies.” 

Sigh...

Why might I react adversely to this? Here’s why…

Because recruiters all over the world (not being hyperbolic here) are pinging these same engineers to the point of exhaustion. Think you’re the only one who wants someone from top schools and companies? Afraid not. The engineers at top tech companies receive no less than 20-30 emails a week from recruiters all telling them about an amazing opportunity with huge upside. Doesn’t matter how brilliant a recruiting pitch is, at that kind of volume, you’re lucky if your email gets read or your call is answered.  Going off the beaten path will increase your positive response rate. 

Because great candidates do in fact exist beyond the realm of fancy, schmancy companies.  Using company/school as your only signal for talent is just lazy recruiting in my opinion.  Essentially, you’re letting the interview panels of top companies dictate who gets to work for your company. Shouldn’t YOUR interview process be the higher signal? Try looking harder at experience. Like candidates that show an increasing level of responsibility over time, have high GPAs, etc. Those can be signal of motivation level.  I’ve seen a lot of great candidates get passed on because they lacked the resume glitter, only to see them wind up at a top company a month later.  So, snag them before someone else does.

Because I know how long it will take to find someone willing to leave the comfort of free massages and yearly stock grants. I’ve never met a hiring manager yet that was cool to wait for 3-6 months to hire someone. Every role is crucial when your company needs to scale quickly. But if you want someone top brass, be prepared for it take some time. These engineers are pretty happy where they are. Don’t get me wrong, great engineers do leave their companies all the time, but it’s a numbers game to find someone loose in the saddle and convince them your company is where they should be. 

Because it’s a recipe for lack of diversity within company culture.  Lack of diversity is a common pain point for a lot of companies. If you only target people with similar backgrounds, eventually you wind up with a team with similar strengths and weaknesses that thinks about problems in the same way. One way to avoid this pitfall is to diversify the candidates you target. Then evaluate your interview process and make sure it doesn’t inadvertently filter out those who think differently (hint, your culture fit interview could be the culprit here). 

When figuring out a sourcing strategy, it’s important to assess whether top pedigree is a necessity vs. a nice to have. It may be that you have a vacancy on your team that requires experience in large scale settings or a certain educational focus. But if you find yourself defaulting to always looking for pedigree, ask yourself why? Talent can come from many walks of life, and limiting your search field may filter out great people.