The Smarter Startup

How to Hire Top Talent in Today’s Startup Landscape: A Conversation with Jamie Ceglarz with Guild Talent


Jamie Ceglarz joins us to discuss hiring trends and how to attract top talent to your startup in today’s competitive hiring environment.

Hiring is always a major consideration for startups. But with the added challenges of last year, what does the hiring landscape for startups look like today?

Jamie Ceglarz, Founder & Executive Recruiter for Guild Talent, joined me on the Startup Success Podcast to talk about hiring trends and how to attract top talent in today’s competitive hiring environment.

Growing Competition

“This year the levy has broken, and there’s a bunch of companies that are playing catch up and hiring as well as VCs deploying money.” — Jamie Ceglarz

According to Jamie, the hiring landscape has become more competitive in the last few months. At the start of the pandemic, there was a reluctance on the part of many companies to hire. In addition, many VCs were not deploying money.

But that has changed.

“This year, the levy has broken,” Jamie says. “There’s now a bunch of companies that are playing catch up and hiring as well as VCs deploying money, which is then allowing companies to hire even more.”

Because so many companies are trying to build out their teams, the hiring market is really competitive. And that’s not the only challenge complicating things.

Hiring Remote vs. Local

“The good news is that you have access to a bigger candidate pool if you’re hiring remote; the bad news is that every other company is also hiring remote.” — Jamie Ceglarz

The pandemic forced many companies to shift to remote work at a rate that had never been seen before. Before the pandemic, only 25% of the recruiting projects Jamie’s company worked on were for remote work. Since the pandemic, it’s now 75%.

With the switch to virtual work, the candidate pool has widened across the country and across the world. But that pendulum swings both ways. It also means that there’s greater competition for top candidates.

“There’s been an obvious uptick, in the last six months, of candidates that have competing offers more regularly than they had previously,” Jamie says. “The war for talent is now much more evenly spread across the country.”

So, how do you win top talent?

How to Attract Top Talent

According to Jamie, there needs to be a compelling reason for people to join your company, especially if they are senior-level candidates that have been successful previously.

“There’s always going to be a reason why a company is compelling in general,” Jamie says. “We’ve got X amount of growth and X amount of revenue, we’ve got this great traction and these great investors.”

But that’s not the main reason a candidate might join your company. That reason has more to do with WIIFM — what’s in it for me. To attract top talent to your company, you need to tell a story about the exciting thing they will personally gain from joining your team.

“It’s painting the picture of why this is a good opportunity for you, why it’s a good career move for you,” said Jamie.

Recruiting firms can help with this process.

The Recruiting Process

“Companies are figuring out what their own path forward is going to be and what they want the future of their company to look like.” — Jamie Ceglarz

As we’ve touched on, the hiring process can be difficult and competitive and it is doubly so for hiring senior leadership roles. Recruiting firms step in to alleviate some of those challenges and to offer advice based on what they see in the hiring landscape across all of their clients.

For Jamie, that process starts with a needs analysis. During this step, he works with the company to answer a few questions:

  • What is the underlying problem that hiring this role will solve?
  • Where is the business going?
  • Where will the gaps in the company be as it evolves and grows?

He also considers what personality traits will be additive to the team and what will be toxic. For example, if the leadership team for the company already includes three people with strong, opinionated personalities, it might be beneficial to find candidates that are more middle of the road in temperament.

Personality is especially important for early-stage startups. After all, you will spend a lot of time with whomever you hire as you work long hours to grow your company.

“Personality — like it or not — has an outweighed level of importance,” Jamie says. “It’s not just are you going to get along with the founder, but executive presence and working with the board and all that other stuff.”

Emerging Leadership Level Roles

Personality plays an important role in the hiring of emerging leaders — a position common in startups. These are the step-up leadership candidates that are so important to filling in leadership gaps as a company scales and grows.

For these roles, you need to hire someone who has the personality to grow into the realms of strategic planning and forecasting and who can step up and own a department of business.

Many of them are first-time leaders being given an opportunity to do the work and build out a team underneath them, which is why it’s such an important role to get right when hiring. One false hire can have an outsized impact on the makeup of your company.

This discussion with Jamie Ceglarz was taken from our Startup Success podcast series. You can hear the full episode here.