How to Poach Talent from Larger Companies: 3 Buttons to Push

August 14, 2014

Want to lure away top employees from bigger companies? Be prepared to address these three things to coax them over and make sure they really have what it takes to make the leap.

Recruiting from larger companies for smaller organization can be a tricky task and needs to be approached with the appropriate consideration. Many people have made this transition without any hiccups, but there are also some candidates who are far better suited to life on a cruise ship than buckling down and riding the waves in a raft.
Your main focus — outside of finding the best candidate for the position — will be to ensure that person will be successful within your organization and will be committed to the company. After all, it’s one thing to say you’re interested in working for a startup or an expansion-stage company, it’s another to show up in your open-office workspace, realize that you’re going to effectively be doing a dozen different jobs, and have that interest actually turn into passion.
One way to determine whether the role will actually be the correct fit for a candidate is to openly discuss three particular hot-button topics that allow you to a) make sure they can succeed in a startup environment; and b) stress why a transition to a startup is such a great opportunity for the right person.
Want to Poach Talent from Large Companies? 3 Issues to Address

1) Resources

What the candidate needs to sell you on: For many employees coming from larger corporations, big teams, bigger budgets, and plenty of standardized, automated processes are the name of the game. The transition to a startup environment can sometimes be a rude awakening, and getting more done with less won’t be appealing (or even possible) for everyone. That’s why it’s crucial for you dig down into the candidate’s willingness and proven ability to handle it.
What you need to sell the candidate on: Having fewer resources challenges you to learn to be more innovative, but it makes it much easier to sharpen your focus to the things that really matter and get more lean in your approach. Best of all, there’s far less red tape and bureaucracy you have to deal with, and you can see your work have a much more immediate impact.

2) Structure

What the candidate needs to sell you on: Most employees that are accustomed to working for much larger entities will be used to a very regimented structure and processes. This can actually be a great benefit for the startup, because the candidate may be able to adapt and introduce some of that organization and those processes into the company to help teams work more efficiently. It’s very important to make sure that the candidate can also operate successfully in a less structured environment, however.
Are they creative and adaptive or do they perform better with structure? Do they work better alone or in a collaborative environment? You need to get a sense of what they are actually drawn to and how they’ll handle the transition.
What you need to sell the candidate on: One of the major advantages of working in a startup environment is the ability to play a more active, integral part in a company’s development, and to work in a much more collaborative environment.

3) Culture

What the candidate needs to sell you on: Culture is extremely important to a smaller company and even just one person who isn’t a good cultural fit can have a negative impact on the team. Therefore, you will want to fully highlight your company’s culture to the candidate, and ask several open-ended questions to assess and determine whether he or she is a good fit and will thrive, not fail.
What you need to sell the candidate on: You need to be able to adequately describe your culture to the candidate so they can fully envision what it will be like to work in the environment and determine if it is somewhere there will be able to succeed. Highlight the things that set your company apart and make people love working there. Is it your mission, your transparency, the opportunity to be creative and make a measurable impact? Find out what those things are so you can showcase them to the candidate and find out if they are what the candidate is passionate about, too.
For those of you who have made the transition from a large company to a startup, what did you find to be the most rewarding and the most challenging aspect? 

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Photo by: wlodi


<strong>Brandon DeWitt</strong> is a Talent Acquisition Manager at Criteo <a href="">Criteo</a>. Prior to that, Brandon was a Talent Specialist at OpenView, focused on recruiting engineering candidates, and also previously served as a contract recruiter for CVS Caremark where he sourced candidates in a variety of functional areas nationwide.