Hackernoon logoThe new ‘unicorns’ of the talent market by@hc_adria

The new ‘unicorns’ of the talent market

Adrià Hernández Hacker Noon profile picture

@hc_adriaAdrià Hernández

We’re in a world moving faster than ever, where it doesn’t make sense anymore the concept of ‘local’ competition, as every new startup (and any business for that matter) is facing global competition from the first day, whether they have this in mind or not.

Years ago the best tech companies became aware that in order to be successful, they needed to hire (and try to retain by any means possible) as many great engineers (especially software developers) as they could.

Now, there isn’t any tech company in the world that isn’t fighting to hire and poach top engineers. This has led to what’s known as the ‘talent war’ or the ‘hiring frenzy’, for which Silicon Valley is well known, but which is also common place in all tech hubs around the world.

What was once the key to growth and success, is now a source of problems, as everyone is applying the same strategy, and engineers are (and will continue to be) in short supply.

Since every competitive advantage a company could develop is always a result of the people they have in their team, what could make difference between successful companies and those that fail?

When a combined strategy isn’t enough

Many successful companies have somewhat overcome this challenge by pursuing a differentiation strategy that combines technology with great design, marketing, sales or a strong brand.

A focus in design has led to improved UX and more esthetically pleasant products that customers enjoy more. A focus on marketing/sales, especially when we’re talking about Growth Hacking, helps companies start strong and grow faster. Focusing in building a strong and recognizable brand results in easier sales and lower costs of acquisition.

But then again, we run into the same problem as before, as these strategies have become mainstream, they no longer give companies any competitive or differentiation advantage.

Moreover, and especially for tech companies, not having technology as a key differentiator isn’t a sustainable strategy in the long term.

So, if nailing product design, marketing/sales strategy, and having a strong brand isn’t enough to overcome the scarcity of top engineering talent and develop a competitive edge, what will make the difference from now on?

Enter the new ‘unicorns’

In this situation, the best strategy to gain a competitive advantage could be synthetized in two words, focus and efficiency:

  • Focus: put all your energy and resources on what makes your product/company unique for your customers, and make constant innovation of it the only priority.
  • Efficiency: make the most of the talent in your team, especially the engineers you have. Don’t waste anybody’s time making them do stuff they aren’t great at and enjoy doing.

Engineers, for example, are great are solving problems and build stuff, but forcing them to start managing other people after a ‘logical’ promotion, or telling them to just make whatever marketers or sales people ask for, etc. will only destroy your company productivity and you’ll probably end up losing key people in your team.

There’s a new group of professionals that have a very unusual combination of characteristics that make them perfect to execute this strategy, and that can take your team (and company) to another level:

  • They think like engineers, and hence they understand them and work well together.
  • They know how to put themselves deep inside into the user/customer mind, and then effectively use it to build the product, the brand, the marketing and the sales strategy.
  • They have an instinctive sense of aesthetics a visual appearance, that helps them work with designers and brand specialists.

These people, provided you’re able to find and hire them, are the ones that become the glue in your team, acting as the intersection of communication between different people/departments in your company.

What sets these people apart is that they aren’t just able to be good at engineering, marketing, sales or design, they have the qualities to be great at ALL of these areas. That’s the main reason they are very difficult to identify, since usually they quickly excel and get stuck at one area, and never have the opportunity to develop the others.

Another problem arises when looking for this people: there are few of them.

Since very few companies aware of these professionals, this is the quickest way of securing a competitive edge for your company, especially if you’re a startup.

The industry disruptors

There’s a very small subgroup from the previous set of people, made of extremely rare and almost impossible to find, of very talented people that, in addition to the characteristics described above, they are defined by 3 qualities that set them apart:

  • Knowledge. They’re always learning, and know how to acquire useful knowledge, and then effectively leverage it to build superior products and strategies.
  • Extremely creative and innovation driven. Thinking out of the box is their default mode of thinking, and they always find new and creative ways to solve any problem.
  • Leadership. Helping others reach their potential and make diverse teams work together efficiently at their best is an essential part of their skills.

Having one of these people is enough to disrupt an entire industry, and having a few of them in your team will undoubtedly result in your company dominating all your competitors and securing most (if not all) of the profits of your market.

If you’re lucky enough to find one of them, make sure to do the following:

  • Show the big picture, give them a clear (ambitious) goal, and a timeframe.
  • Give them a fair share of the prize, linked to success.
  • Give them freedom, enough resources and a team withthe best A-players.

Adrià Hernández

Founder Physem


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