Your mission to hire the best team possible, so you're on the hunt.  

As the company founder, you know that recruiting is very time-consuming and challenging, yet it will be a key differentiator between success and failure for your company.

Let's say you're looking for web developers to join your team.  So you get creative as you search and start to attend a monthly Tech Meetup that gathers to discuss the same technology "stack," or components and services your product is built on.  Game on! 

You attend the event and you're ultra-excited because this is what you've been looking for.  A critical mass of people who are all skilled and potentially qualified to be your next hire.  You work the crowd, only to find you don't get the glowing reception that you expected.

Wait a minute, you think!  I'm the founder of a cool start-up that is going to change the world, everyone should be lining up to join me.

But the reality is the tech industry is very competitive, and cutthroat right now.  Take a number, because everyone's company is out to change the world and, yes, they also have blue chip investors.

To differentiate your company, you need to work on establishing a strong recruiting brand.  That is, the reputation your company has among potential job candidates, and the buzz factor (or lack thereof) among people who might want to work for you.

Now, let's explore the different types of recruiting brands.  Make sure you think about which brand best represents your company now, or what you want to become. 

The Gold Standard

These are the most highly sought-after companies that everyone is talking about and people are vying to work at.  They may have grown way beyond a start-up, but they continue to innovate, keep people challenged, and excel at creating a very vibrant and exciting culture.  Great examples include Apple, Google, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, and TripAdvisor.  They were all unknowns at one point. 

Each of these companies has made it a point of hiring only the best and never lowered the bar on the level of talent they brought into the company.  Although competing for top talent is never easy, it certainly makes things easier when you have a desirable brand that attracts A-level candidates.

The Up & Comer

This is the next generation of companies that have done a terrific job building amazing teams of people, right from the early days.  They've stuck to the mantra: A-players know and attract other A-players.  

The Up & Comer is typically building a market-leading product and rapidly growing and scaling.  In the Bay Area, this would include companies like Dropbox, Airbnb, and Square, who have all built top recruiting brands and company culture in a short amount of time.  In New York, I think of FourSquare, Tumblr, and and in Boston, HubSpot, Kayak, and Gemvara.

These companies have inspired people to want to work with the founders and teams.  They've created a fundamental belief from the outside that there is significant growth potential in the market for their product or service.

Stealth Mode

This is the company that has made very little public about its product or service.  Perhaps it has a landing page with a logo and a one or two sentence descriptive blurb. 

Across the web, you will see blog posts that debate whether or not a so-called stealth-mode strategy makes sense for start-ups.  From a recruiting point of view, unless you are a serial entrepreneur with a proven track record, it certainly makes it a lot more challenging to recruit top performers when there is little information out there about your idea.  By operating in stealth mode, you could be doing your business a disservice and drastically reducing your access to top talent because you are an unknown.

The Wannabe

This is a company that is "just there."  It exists and maybe it even has a great product but no one is talking about it.  

The founders haven't built a brand or created a culture that breeds or attracts talent. Even worse, maybe they haven't built out a recruiting plan or figured out how to run an effective recruiting process, with a positive experience for candidates. 

Great ideas can only take you so far.  Ultimately, it comes down to the team, because smart and driven people will figure out the market, whatever it is, and eventually succeed. 

So, even if you have game-changing technology, unless you can recruit a strong team to roll it out, you are in some serious trouble. 

In my next post, I'll talk about ways to improve your recruiting brand and increase your company's awareness and visibility.