Why Getting Great “A” Talent is Hard

    December 5, 2006

All companies really want to hire the best and brightest; the best ones that they can find that meet the criteria of the job, would seem to fit into the organization, and has the ability to actually do the job.

It is costly to hire wrong, if you hire right, the world is great for the company.

In summation, a blog about technology, there is an article called “Why big high tech companies are loosing the talent war“. In this article they state:

“Big companies are losing their “A” players and they’re struggling to attract “B” players. In an industry where everything is about people, large tech companies are in trouble because they are losing the talent war. And keep in mind, an “A” player in an organization can usually produce the same results as three “B” players.

Joining a big company is irrational in today’s market

Why would you want to join a big high tech company (Yahoo, Microsoft, eBay, HP, Oracle, or Cisco) when you can join a cool startup? [Disclosure: Auren is NOT a shareholder in any public high-tech company] At a big company you’re stuck with corporate politics, paralysis decision making, and a lack of getting things done. At a small company you’re having fun, pursuing your dream, and actually getting things done.

Job security is about a wash. While start-ups tend to go under, big companies are always doing lay-offs and good people are often getting fired due to corporate politics and purges. Thinking about cash compensation, if you make $130K at a big company, you’ll likely make $110K at a funded start-up – a significant difference ($11K after taxes), but not astronomical. Also let’s not forget the stock compensation which has no comparison.” (summation)

I have worked in big, small, and middle-sized companies, and all of them really were about doing as many good things as possible, within the confines of the company. While agreed that in a smaller start up there are not the intervening layers of bureaucracy, even a small start up run by a Type A personality on a bender can be difficult, and you might not be pursuing your dream in that environment so much as dealing with management induced stress related issues.

Really, security is no longer a reason to try to hold onto a job, you may be secure, but when the cuts come, they come. That is a reality of the job market that I think we have all accepted is part of the game. I have been in startups, they can be fun under the right management with the right vision, if they lack both, being in a start up is no fun. I don’t agree with the premise that startups are somehow better than a big company, both suffer from the same root cause issues and results if they are not doing well.

For me this article harkens back to the good old days of the dot com boom where everyone wanted to do the most innovative thing that they can do and get fabulously wealthy doing it. I don’t buy the argument, but it does remind me of a bumper sticker I saw in Bellevue Washington on a ratted out old jeep

“Oh Lord, please let there be another dot com boom, and I promise not to piss it away this time”.

Summation might be right, but then with what I have seen, or my friends have seen, people choose a company based on what they are comfortable with. There is safety in the anonymity of a large company, while it can be dangerous being on the bleeding edge. Many people will choose the start up for the general excitement and adrenalin junkie things they need to do, while others need the static day-to-day autonomic functions of a big company to stay happy.

Why won’t I go work for a startup? No reason, why won’t I go to a big company, no reason. It is really about the job and the people, both have to be exceptional.


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Dan Morrill has been in the information security field for 18 years, both
civilian and military, and is currently working on his Doctor of Management.
Dan shares his insights on the important security issues of today through
his blog, Managing
Intellectual Property & IT Security
, and is an active participant in the
ITtoolbox blogging community.