How can an early stage startup compete with larger companies in engineering hiring?

Kevin is the VP of Engineering at Abnormal Security, overseeing all aspects of growth and execution. In this class, Kevin describes the requirements for building a well-rounded and highly functional engineering team from both a technical and cultural perspective. Kevin spent time at eBay and Quantcast prior to becoming an early-stage engineer leader at TellApart, then a Director of Engineering at Twitter.

Kevin W: Wow. Yeah. great question. I think as someone who's both recruited both at early [00:07:00] stage startups and at larger companies, I think you guys have goes both ways. You also have to answer that question and conversely right when I've been at larger company competing it's early stage startups.

I think ultimately it's a little bit of a false premise, of competing because there's no single company or job that's a perfect fit for every single candidate. So a lot of your job in recruiting is helping you and the candidate you're meeting with self-discover along the way, whether or not this particular role, this particular team, this particular mission.

Is the right one for them. and by the way, it's completely fine if it ends up not being that for them, because they discover through it, they'd rather be in a larger or smaller environment or whatever the case actually is. So I think there's a little bit of a false premise that you have to compete every single time for every candidate.

That's never been my belief of my role here is I'm building a team that being said, you do have to find a way to have. Authentic unique differentiation, both between larger companies or other startups you're going after as well. And I've always found that it's really my job as an [00:08:00] engineering leader, to really, again, deeply understand what someone's motivations are and their hopes and dreams and ambitions, and really trying to understand how this opportunity out of normal or whatever company I'm at is uniquely.

Opportunity for them. And that's the art and the science that goes into, I think, a well-run recruiting practice. And I think, it just as a simple kind of example, probably 95% of candidates when you ask them, what are you looking for in a company? They will say, I want to work with smart people.

I want to have a big impact. I wanted the chance to do something meaningful. The reality is abnormal or any other company does not have a monopoly on impactful roles or smart people, or the ability to do something very meaningful. So if the only way you try to answer that question is tell them, let me tell you, see how impactful you will be here and how smart our colleagues are at best.

You're doing a coin toss between you and every other startup. That's parodying something out of this. Pretty similar. How are they going to know? So the challenge we have to do as recruiting leader is find that [00:09:00] thing that is authentically, uniquely differentiated and unique that you can provide.

And there's that mutual, beneficial partnership for both men and the company. And that's never a one size fits all answer. It's always a unique kind of discovery that you're doing with every single person you meet. But that is ultimately, I think what it takes building that authentic. Differentiated thing, That value probably can only find either from you as the leader they're going to learn from and work with for this particular mission or technology, That they're going to be working on as well.

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