What big old companies can learn from the start-up upstarts

There has and will always be a war for top emerging talent – future leaders. And this is a war that younger companies are winning. Everyone wants to go and work at Uber, Airbnb, etc. Here are some lessons that more established businesses can learn from younger upstarts:

Experiment with new channels. Where old companies see risk, young companies see opportunity. Young companies get that the world changes. Innovation is in their DNA. So they are quick to explore new recruitment channels that promise to reach better talent, quicker & more cost effectively. And if they don’t work, they stop. But there was no harm in trying.

Measure the success of each channel. Young (particularly digital) companies love data. Analysis is part of their backbone. This extends to recruitment. They measure what works and hone in on the most effective channels.

Be clear on what it means to be on a PSL. What’s the point in a PSL? It’s simply a list of suppliers that you know to be successful channels both in output and cost. Simply put: they work (today; not last year or 10 years ago) and they work at a price you’re happy with.

So make it easy to update your PSL. A big frustration with HR in large companies is ‘the business’ going outside the PSL. This is more often that not because it’s not clear how to update the PSL. It’s perceived as an outdated list. Suppliers that no longer deliver. Nobody quite knows how to remove suppliers that don’t perform and add suppliers that they would like to try. Young companies make this process very clear and easy to navigate.

Make decisions quickly. Young companies move fast. It’s clear who needs to make what decision and that decision is made without great deliberation. If a colleague wants to try something new for good reason, they aren’t held back by a complicated bureaucratic process. This means that young companies constantly get onto the talent faster. Because they try new channels first.

Candidate experience matters. Candidate experience has been a buzz word for all organisations. But many larger & older ones don’t live up to it. They don’t acknowledge applicants. They are slow to respond even to the best ones. They take an age to complete an interview process. A bad candidate experience damages your employer brand. You might put off the best candidate. And those candidates all have talented friends. Word gets out. Younger companies get this. And they don’t let it happen.

The best candidates don’t hang around. If you take 2 weeks to get back to a good candidate, guaranteed they’ll have other irons in the fire already. Younger companies would get back within 1 day or 2. They might even have an offer out within 2 weeks.

Write compelling copy. Young companies write exciting, compelling job descriptions. They get that they need to sell themselves. They talk about the team. The worklife. The company – values, vision, ambitions. Simply put, they make it an exciting and enticing read. They understand that this is a piece of consumer marketing – just like Apple try and sell you an iphone or Ford try and sell you a car. Older companies commonly post boring copy. They don’t get that there’s a massive difference between the internal document depicting how this person fits into the organisation & how you attract the right person to show interest in the opportunity. See here for simple tips on writing great job descriptions.

Roles are often more attractive than brands. Don’t get me wrong – I am not bashing older companies here. ‘Start-ups’ often drink way too much of their own cool aid. And the actual jobs (and elements beside the job like training, progression, benefits) are often not all they’re cracked up to be. Older companies can have a great advantage here. Jobs at the upstarts can often be pretty limited in their scope. The brand might be sexy but the nuts and bolts of the role may not be. Also they are often super competitive to land so there’s a lot of great talent missing out on them. So take time to craft great jobs – as the promise of great experience often trumps brand.

Why has this come to mind this week? Well, it’s week 3 for me building out MMO in Australia. I’ve made it completely free for employers to try movemeon. The platform has been used by 600+ big businesses. In about 100 countries. So there’s a comforting track record. And it’s free.

I’ve connected with a whole range of companies: big to small; old to young. And guess what? While the old companies tie themselves in knots wondering how to get mmo onto their psl. The young companies just sign up and get roles live – what’s the harm in trying they cry?! So as 100s of consultants & alumni in Oz join the site, guess which firms they get exposed to? Food for thought.


– by Rich.


Hope you enjoyed this article – we regularly publish our content on our LinkedIn page so if you want to keep in touch just click through. You can also sign up as a Movemeon member to become a part of our Movemeon community to gain access to top opportunities, insight, events and advice.



Young and old

Recent articles

Share This