Can Dot-Coms Still Attract the Best and Brightest?
Potential employees are looking at different criteria, including who has invested in the company, how much money it has and who the managers are.
When it comes to recruiting top talent, Internet companies face a much different picture than they did a few years ago.
In those days, workers gleefully quit their jobs with brick-and-mortar companies to sign on with Internet startups.
They were lured by the promise of lavish expense accounts, casual work environments, lucrative stock-option packages and the excitement of getting in on the ground floor of the dot-com revolution.
Those heady days are long gone. "Tech workers aren't rushing to work at dot-coms in the way that they were two to three years ago," Alan Hoffman, a technology jobs expert at Monster.com, told the E-Commerce Times.
Whereas Internet startups once could take their pick of top talent, many potential recruits now are opting for the security of more established companies, and they are willing -- sometimes even eager -- to embrace a more structured work environment.
For that reason, dot-coms are focusing less on things that used to attract potential hires, like casual dress codes, lavish lunches and frequent parties.
"Dot-coms are not quite as willing to convey the free-wheeling image they did a few years ago," Hoffman said.
According to Jamie McCleary, an analyst with People3, the IT human resources branch of research firm Gartner, dot-coms have shifted toward a traditional approach to recruiting. In particular, they have moved away from stock-option packages in favor of old standbys -- base salary and benefits.
"The whole options game has blown up in many people's faces," McCleary told the E-Commerce Times. "For people who are contemplating a switch to an Internet company, there is an interest in equity, but it won't be the primary factor."
Although stock options are still a viable option in recruiting younger, less risk-averse people, security is key for older executives. "It all comes down to guaranteed compensation," McCleary said.
However, McCleary added, dot-coms still have something extra to offer potential employees -- cutting-edge technology. A Web company with an innovative plan might be able to lure workers with the prospect of being part of something truly original.
"That is something that would be very enticing to a tech worker," McCleary noted.
The hiring process itself has become more traditional as well. "When dot-coms are hiring [now], the hiring process looks a bit more like it does at other companies. They are doing multiple interviews and making sure they get just the right person -- not someone who is just there for stock options," Hoffman said.
Potential employees also are looking at different criteria, including who has invested in the company, how much money it has, who the managers are, and what sort of commitment they have made to bringing the company to profitability.
"You really need to look at the company almost as if you're putting your own money into it," Hoffman said. "There's no getting around that it's a risk, and you want to assess what kind of risk there is."
Despite the risks, however, a lot of people in the technology field are out of work and will consider any opportunity.
"The hiring managers are in the driver's seat now," Hoffman said. "They are able to be quite a bit more selective than they have been."