Everyone wants to be the cool company to work for. The one where resumes are coming in by the second, and today's top talent are banging on the door at be apart of the "in crowd". So what does it mean to be cool? Well, great work perks, a great culture, and of course, cool people that work there. 

The Apples, Amazons and Glossiers of the world have that "it factor". And it's not just because they're billion-dollar companies (although that helps). Each one is known for being an innovative and disruptive business with a culture and customer base to match. The people that work inside these organizations day in and day out are no doubt a huge component of their success.

To appeal to top talent and a bigger audience, leaders tend to look for candidates that exude that "cool factor" we're all striving for. You know the type: they dress well, get into all the top restaurants, and have that certain swagger as they stroll through the office doors. It's high school all over again, and you want a seat at the popular table.

This has led many leadership teams to a branding crossroads, transforming their corporate vision to stay relevant. That means they give C-suite hiring preferences to younger and '"cooler" personnel to fit within their new vision. Unfortunately, this is usually to their detriment.

I've always felt that '"cool" is often associated with what's trending. And trends don't last. What's in this year may be way out of style the next. So instead of looking at what "outfit of the day" they're wearing, start asking real questions that define the candidate based on merit and experience rather than their polished exterior. 

Still don't believe me? Here are three more reasons to stop looking for the cool factor when hiring talent.

1. It's an act. 

We've all come across those types of people who name-drop every chance they get, or brag about what they did over the weekend. Don't be fooled by smoke and mirrors. The car someone drives or who they vacation with doesn't make them a great employee by any means. 

Filling your workplace with Millennials just because you want to be seen as a young company is dangerous. When you're interviewing, don't just ask the candidate what they like to do for fun, but ask why they like to do it. This will typically reveal their motivations and show whether it's a real interest, or they're just faking it.

2. They lack experience.

Don't be blinded by charisma and boldness. While great leaders often have both of these qualities, they also have years of proven experience. Dissect their resume to find out what changes they really implemented at their last gig.

They may have had a leadership role at their last company, but what did their daily responsibilities look like? I often find that startups are quick to hand out C-suite titles for jobs that are little more than entry-level. 

3. You're missing out.

Here's an example: You have two candidates. One is 29 years old and comes from an up-and-coming startup that's caught press attention as a young, innovative, and exciting company to watch. The person has worked there for a little over a year, and has basic experience in the position you're hiring for.

The other is 42 years old and has spent the past 10 years at a the same role you're looking to fill in an established company. They have proven results and are eager to bring their ideas to the table. 

Which one do you choose? 

We all know which one is perceived as the "cool" choice, but that should never outweigh how much value someone a little older and wiser can offer, especially at a C-suite level. Don't miss out on great talent just because of an image you're trying to portray. 

Published on: Mar 29, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.