How to Use Your Product, Not Perks, to Attract Talented Employees

If you want to find talented people who will grow your company because they believe in you and your mission, put your product front and center in the hiring process and focus on how it betters your consumers' lives. You'll attract people who care about your product and your company's mission rather than people looking for cool perks.

October 18th, 2017   |    By: Ravi Sahu    |    Tags: Management, Employees, Hiring & Firing, Staff, Product/MVP

One of the most common recruiting tactics over the past few years has been to entice young, hungry talent by highlighting some unique company perks like nap rooms, unlimited paid time off, and ping-pong tables. While those benefits will certainly turn some heads, are they really the heads you want working for you?

The point of any recruitment effort is to find talented, qualified individuals to help your company grow and move forward. Talking about ping-pong tables won’t help you find them — unless, of course, you manufacture or sell ping-pong balls, paddles, or tables.

Instead, you should be thinking about your core values, your company’s mission, and the aspects of it that you and your current team are passionate about. Shifting your focus in this way may reduce the total number of resumes you receive.

However, if applicants are more attuned to your company’s mission right from the start, it will also increase the likelihood of finding the right people who will help your company grow.

Making the Product Your Central Focus

How to Use Your Product, Not Perks, to Attract Talented Employees

Each and every product is built to solve a problem. Toys are built to entertain children. Software is built to help individuals and businesses better manage their lives. Kitchen appliances make it easier for people to make food. Good products meet a need, but great products build connections.

Outstanding products become a part of consumers’ every day lives, and your employees should understand their role in making that happen. To find people who care about what you’re building and why you’re building it, your product needs to inform your core mission and your company culture.

Here are three ways to implement this approach when it’s time to recruit talented employees:

1. Write job listings tailored to desired attributes and high expectations.

The first step in trying to find candidates with a P.R.O.D.U.C.T. mindset is to write a unique and compelling listing.

Don’t start a job listing with a generic statement that says nothing about you, your company, or its mission. Think about the traits of ideal candidates. What are their goals? Why do they do what they do? Then, speak specifically to them.

Unique, illustrative statements help the best prospective candidates understand how well their outlooks and skill sets align with our business. Because Strayos is a 3D platform that helps make aerial data actionable, here’s an example specific to my company: “You believe that the world would be better off working in 3D. You get goosebumps when looking at each pixel of complex 3D imagery.”

A typical, traditional job description will lead to typical, mediocre applicants. Conversely, if you describe the challenges, clarify your high expectations, and create a real vision of how that role contributes to the business, you’ll receive resumes from high performers.

2. Seek out a P. R. O. D. U. C. T. mindset.

At Strayos, we look for people who have a P. R. O. D. U. C. T. mindset — those who are Passionate, Resilient, Obsessive, Driven, Understanding, Caring, and Tactful. These seven principles are guidelines that allow us to find the right fit, not just talented people.

Some individuals might meet all of the technical qualifications of a job, but we look for those who are as passionate about meeting our customers’ needs as we are. Those who are driven by our company’s core mission and have the right attitude will be able to discuss how they have demonstrated these characteristics.

During the interview process we look for various cues to recognize the P. R. O. D. U. C. T. mindset. For example, knowing when to talk and when to give someone else the floor speaks tremendously to character and demonstrates tactfulness.

We ask candidates about their latest obsessions. If they are genuinely infatuated with something, we can see how that passion would drive them in any task they take on.

3. Make the application process mirror the work.

Want to know whether your candidates will enjoy working with your product or within your industry? Once you’ve got some good resumes on file, create opportunities for those applicants to showcase their tactical skills upfront by completing a job simulation task relevant to the position.

To illustrate: The Government Communications Headquarters — the equivalent of the U.S. National Security Agency in the United Kingdom — used an online exercise to ensure that applicants to its cyberattack unit were true problem solvers who had the required technological capabilities. Only 1 percent of the hundreds of thousands of people who tried were able to solve the complicated puzzle, and GCHQ recruiters were thrilled with the results.

Using such an exercise will not only help you discover those who possess the right aptitude, but also those who are passionate enough about the work to take the time to try and solve a problem — as opposed to simply emailing their resume or applying with one click via LinkedIn.

Your product is the reason your business exists. Why would you waste your time trying to get everyone to read your listing when you could be talking to people who share your passion? By putting your product front and center and focusing on the ways in which it betters your consumers’ lives in your hiring process, you’ll be able to find talented people who will grow your company because they believe in you and your mission.

About the Author

Ravi Sahu

Ravi Sahu is a founder and CEO of Strayos. Before founding Strayos, he spent more than 10 years working globally with Fortune 500 companies in various roles, from product management to building successful teams for large digital transformation projects. He is also a product mentor and advisor to several venture-backed companies. He holds an MBA from Washington University in St. Louis and a bachelor of engineering degree in Computer Science from a top-ranked university in India.

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