Recruiting top talent is typically one of the #1 challenge for early-stage companies. Why? Credibility. As an early-stage company, you don't have a compelling story that is strong enough to convince the best candidates.  Your job as CEO is to overcome that credibility gap with your own leadership.

You see great candidates have a different decision lens than average candidates.

What makes a great candidate? A great candidate has a combination of:

  • experience or experiences that are 100% relevant to today and the near future,
  • a personality that is obvious to all during the interview process,
  • a sharp mind that shows intellect as applied to the company's mission,
  • an ability to communicate effectively, and
  • a culture fit with not just the company but the team they will be most closely working with,
  • a radar that can spot B.S. from the truth.

Therein lies your challenge as a leader, finding a way to sell the company, the vision and you without going too far and falling into the B.S. territory.

My general rule of thumb is that you are allowed about 15% exaggeration over the truth. Of course, this is difficult to gauge when discussing matters that are more subjective than quantitative. Nonetheless, it is a good barometer for your words. I find that an authentic talk track works almost every time. There is something about that humble, guttural, passionate, concise set of words that seems to resonate with the great candidates.

Bad leaders many times try to use word tricks, copied vision statements, even hubris to try and be someone they are not. The same for sharing the prospects for the company.

Great candidates seem to have the ability to spot a bad leader pretty quickly.

Your lesson - be true to yourself and your company as the leader and don't rely on tricks to recruit your next great candidate.