To Attract Tech-Talent, Offer the Company, Not the Job

Bloomberg Law for HR Professionals is a complete, one-stop resource, continuously updated, providing HR professionals with fast answers to a wide range of domestic and international human resources...

By Caryn Freeman

Nov. 12 — When recruiting high-tech talent, employers should be selling not merely a job, but the company vision, Tom Leung, CEO of Anthology, a careers website formerly known as Poachable, told Bloomberg BNA.

“If I were recruiting someone, I wouldn't say ‘I have a new back-end developer role.' I would start with, ‘I wanted to share with you a little bit about why we think we're reinventing how careers are managed and why we think the system is broken,' ” he said Nov. 6.

In other words, Leung said, “answer the question ‘why' before you say ‘what.' ” Top tech talent wants to know why your company exists and why it's trying to do what it's trying to do, he added.

“People today, especially if they are highly talented, can get a job almost anywhere so they tend to choose to work at a place that really inspires them and where they feel connected to the larger mission,” Leung said. “The first thing you should do is really nail the ‘why does this company matter' question.”

“Paint the picture of what the role will look like three years from now,” Leung said, not just what the employee will do this year, “but where the growth is. Align that with the individual's career trajectory and where they want to develop, and explain how the company can help them get there faster.”

“When you look at job descriptions [for IT], rarely do they talk about what makes this company and this product really special and innovative,” Leung said.

He said a big enticement IT recruiters tend to overlook is offering the opportunity to collaborate with other top talent. “There are these cultural reasons that drive top talent to consider an opportunity that tend to be overlooked by a lot of recruiters,” Leung explained.

What doesn't work “that everybody seems to try and do” is increasing salaries, Leung said. For many companies, he said, it's hard to back up a salary promise, especially if they're going after people working at companies such as Netflix or Google.

“Even if you could [offer more money], what we found in our research is that most senior talent is willing to take a pay cut if it's for the right opportunity,” Leung said. “Salary doesn't really drive the conversation,” he said, adding that employers often make the mistake “of trying to buy talent.”

Leung said another mistake companies make is “playing up gimmicky benefits,” such as unlimited vacation leave.

“What we found in our research is that more than half of the people surveyed don't think unlimited vacation would make them more likely to want to work at a company,” he said. “A lot of people don't feel like it is a legitimate offering.”

Tech Workers Surveyed

Last month, Anthology polled 1,500 current employees at Google, Microsoft, Amazon, IBM, Oracle and Apple.

The poll, released Nov. 4, found that Amazon had the highest percentage (74 percent) of current workers who wanted to jump to another public company. They were also the most likely to say they’d jump to a pre-IPO company (71 percent).

According to the findings, Google employees were the most likely to say they’d jump to an early-stage startup (45 percent) or a well funded startup (73 percent).

Apple employees were more hesitant to join an early-stage startup, but 62 percent were willing to jump to a well-funded startup, the poll found.

The research also found that IBM employees are looking for more stability and less risk, with 72 percent saying they’d likely join a profitable public company and only 23 percent saying they’d join an early-stage startup.

Oracle employees were pretty evenly split about where they may jump to next, but they were also most likely to go to a public company (69 percent), the poll found.

To contact the reporter on this story: Caryn Freeman in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Simon Nadel at


Request Bloomberg Law for HR Professionals