I recently wrote about why hiring is harder in a recession than it is during an economic expansion. But, just because it’s hard (it is always hard) doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. You should always be looking for A-Players to bring onto your team.
Hiring obvious A-Players is really hard because everyone else knows they are obvious and they will be extremely sought over (and very expensive). That doesn’t change in a recession.
So, if you want to find the A-Players that are available, you can’t look for the obvious ones. You have to find the diamonds in the rough who don’t look like precious stones.
To find A-Players in a downturn, look for people that other people in Silicon Valley would discriminate against.
You want to find people that were passed over by other tech companies for reasons other than their talent and give them a chance.
You can start with women and minorities. They are still very much discriminated against. Of course, few people in Silicon Valley will outwardly state that they want to discriminate against women and minorities. And many companies even have active programs to reach out to them. You might not have an advantage in landing female and minority A-Players because there are a lot of other companies competing for this talent pool.
In addition to women and under-represented minorities, there are a lot of other categories of people who are actively discriminated against in Silicon Valley including:
- Boomer generation (people born 1946-1964)
- People that went to third-tier universities
- Religious people (even slightly religious people)
- People who are politically conservative
- People with thick accents
- People who are overweight
- People who smoke cigarettes
- People who are socially awkward
Let’s take a closer look at each of these categories.
Hire people over 55.
Tech companies tend to be extremely biased against people with grey hair. This is especially true of older people who are seen as “past their prime” or recently part of a company that crashed and burned. It is extremely rare for a tech company to hire an individual contributor that is over 45. And this trend is likely more pronounced during an economic downturn.
There are plenty of people who, in 2008, ended up taking the Director-level job at Digg instead of at Facebook (even though they had job offers at both). The ones who went to Digg are seen as past their prime and the ones that went to Facebook are living on their own private island and serving on the boards of directors of hot start-ups. Just because the person made a wrong financial choice 12 years ago does not mean they cannot add immensely to your company.Continue reading