Everything Cinderella Taught Us About Talent Attraction is Wrong

February 23, 2015

Why would the Prince ever notice me?

Why would the award-winning wiz kid engineer ever join our company?

Most of us aren’t Google, and most of us can’t just waltz into a ball, steal the prince’s attention and affection, and become a princess before the week is through.

Instead, we have to work really hard to get noticed by the prince (or candidate) we’ve got our eye on. We have to find a fairy godmother who can transform our rags into black tie attire and our pumpkin into a horse-drawn carriage.

Or, do we?

Within my Silicon Valley bubble, I’ve noticed two caricatures of reality when it comes to talent acquisition. You’re either Google, where attracting talent is as simple as announcing your latest company perk (frozen eggs, ladies?) or you’re not, in which case it’s very difficult to win talent. Picture a battlefield of bidding wars, complex stock option packages, and poached talent overnight.

This black-and-white view simply isn’t right, and it isn’t helpful to the talent industry. No company is immune to the challenges of talent attraction, and playing the “I’m just a poor company, who would possibly take me to the ball?” card simply won’t fly.

(By the way—Google works very hard, and very intentionally, to attract great talent).

If we’re looking for true love, why all the hocus pocus?

What if Cinderella had just washed the ash off her face, dusted off her dress, and walked to the ball that night? Appearances aside, Cinderella has the positive attitude of an invincible sunflower—that makes her pretty special. If she had just presented her true self to the prince, wouldn’t real true love have found her anyway?

What if companies stopped comparing their culture to Google and instead embraced their own company perks and quirks? Maybe your employees hate beanbags because they cause back problems, and everyone knows organic kombucha can go terribly wrong.

Consumer companies are the masters of making the most out of who they are. I challenge anyone to find consumer packaging that doesn’t either solve a terrible problem, promise life-changing results, or come wrapped in sustainably-grown paper—you can bet something is distinct.

Olay Regenerist: Changing the Way You Age.” Ya, I’ll bite.

Whether it’s your people, product, or passion—find whatever it is that will make talent fall in love with you (and then take a job at your company).

Remember what matters.

I don’t think the prince even noticed the beautiful horse-drawn carriage Cinderella pulled up in, so it seems like a simple horse and saddle would have gotten the job done.

Don’t get distracted with the bells and whistles that top talent doesn’t even really care about. From our LinkedIn data, we know that most professionals care about things like:

  1. Opportunity for advancement
  2. A good work/life balance
  3. Challenging work
  4. Compensation and benefits
  5. Learning opportunities

These are just a few of many valid reasons why top talent will want to join your organization—not nap pods (although those are awesome). 

Cinderella got one thing right.

Just in case her prince had trouble remembering how amazing she was, she left him with a memento that only she could have left. Her glass slipper—tailored to just her foot—enabled him to find her again. Are you giving interested candidates something unique to remember you by?

Whether you’re a household name company, the hottest stealth-mode startup backed by Larry Page’s second cousin, or a stable mid-size business simply proud to be chugging along—be true to who you are and your talent soul mates will find you.

*Image by chris.alcoran

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