Hire Like A Startup, Damnit!

Adel Alaali
4 min readJun 12, 2022


does traditional recruitment still work?

Once considered the golden standard for job seekers, (edit: as of 2017), traditional firms such as McKinsey Co. now find themselves in the midst of a labor shortage. Simulalry other consulting, fin-tech and finance organizations struggle to fill their workman ranks. Moreover, contrasting traditional organizations, the startup counterparts are essentially pricing out the former within the labor market by leveraging pseudo-social credits and a demographic-driven marketing schema.

Ostensibly, the schemas’ success is partly due to the adoption of a unilateral approach to organizational marketing, recruitment, and outreach; wherein the attainment of ‘social credits’, or high marks on personality exams, cohere the prospective workman to the company’s ethos, pathos and logos. The credits — an otherwise arbitrary delineation of the organization’s governance — do not promote egalitarian workplace policy. Simply, an aligned strategic vision cannot be tested online, via personality exams. A prospective workman can ‘learn’ the requisite preliminaries and pass the ‘exam’ via deduction. (hopefully) Unbeknownst to financial decision makers, such measures have been aggressively marketed towards the burgeoning demographic Millennials labor market. This oddity of grading ‘social credits’ has seemingly priced out the traditionally orientated workplaces. Zoom and online exams have replaced the in-person and stern handshakes. The Millennial demographics proclivities have been catered to, with early-stage organizations scooping them up. According to HBR’s ‘To Attract New Grads, Hire Like a Startup,’ the pricing out has been imparted due to the Millennials and recent grads' partiality to having been employed by organizations with differing values purveying and seemingly gerrymandered ethos.

Therein lurks a salient peculiarity confounding the Millennial workman and the traditional- employer. CEO Barry Salzburg’s assertation affirms the cultural divergence in:

“Millennials are Increasingly Thinking of Finance, Consulting and Corporate Jobs as a Tragedy of a Wasted Mind.” [sic]

Salzburg’s assessment contrasts a duality within current labor markets: The incurred nuances of today’s labor market are sown within the traditional, more contrived recruitment approach of the traditional employer. However, if traditional organizations conform to efforts similar to that of early-stage recruitment outreach, then they themselves will be considered sellouts to both the Millennial and the stakeholder alike.

I would like to add that Pews Research, ‘Top Reasons Why US Workers Left a Job in 2021,’ indicates that the aggregate dissent was not the prenuptious outcomes of pay and workman output, but rather an amalgamation that personifies the many social/personal divergences within the Millenials’ psyche. Therefore, the aforenoted quote directly parallels my conjecture that startup organizations fill the complex void of Millennials’ convergences, idealism, and prevailing proclivities. As a result, younger CEOs and agile startup organizations are beating the more traditional, conservstive companies in demographic-specific employee recruitment.

Today’s workman is different than that of yesterday. And Millennials prefer being employed by an organization where governance policy and strategic vision are closely aligned to the individual’s ethos. As a result, Millennials have traded the once-coveted pillars of job security, workplace prestige, and (relatively) high pay for riskier promissaries underwritten by early-stage businesses. We prefer vision and sound leadership over

Furthermore, the burgeoning talent pool’s idiosyncratic behavior has levied startup organizations a competitive advantage within the millennial-recruitment domain. The engagement and marketing efforts therein differentiate startups from those leveraging more traditional means — in effecting becomes expressive to those ruminating about the inevitable (and somewhat debatable) devotion to work, and the devotion to self. In addition, finding commonalities between management, and the millennial workman has seemingly nebulized an early-stage recruiting competitive advantage. This is because, unlike conventional employers, early-stage organizations are often founded and run by Millennials, further compounding similarities and satiating millennials’ individualistic nature.

Startup organizations have realized their competitive recruiting advantage, having coupled a shared vision with the workman to an aggressive recruitment-oriented marketing campaign. For example, instances such as Airbnb’s stratagem to emphasize change and personal impact is personified in its recruitment-marketing ethos: “if you work for us, you will be creating a more unified community and helping to build relations through its service.” — something applicants to McKinzie or BCG would likely never realize.

Moreover, when considering and aggregating all relative employee dissatisfactions relative to pay, Pew’s ‘Top Reasons Why US Workers Left a Job in 2021’ research indicates that low pay alone was not an overwhelming concern to millennials. Overall pay could be considered a ‘minor reason’ to Millennial work[lace dissatisfaction after cumulatively aggregating societal and personal reasons. Millennials would find opportunities for workplace advancement and a flexible work-life balance over higher pay perforce.

Coincidently, working at an early-stage organization offers prospective employees a workplace that is derivative — and to a degree, serves — the Millennial’s ethos: startups are nimble, which offers advancement and time-flexibility, and are run by other Millennials, which aligns the two’s vision and thus avoids the aforementioned workplace-woes. Accordingly, Mckinsey Co., and traditional firms alike, should consider high pay as ‘one of many tools’ within the recruitment arsenal, rather than embodying the ‘amenity’ as the main purvayence for outreach.

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