Top 10 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Recruit From Dot-Com’s

When the stock market tumbles, there is often a cry heard at major firms: “Let’s recruit away the talent from dot-coms!” But I would urge caution before making any raids. Here are some possible reasons why hiring people from dot-coms may be a mistake for the more “established” firms!* Top 10 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Recruit From Dot-Coms

  1. The cost of your workers’ comp will skyrocket due to “scooter” crashes in the hallways.
  1. One word: hygiene.
  1. You’ll have to learn a new language when you hire them if you think Java is coffee, “Ice Cube” is something that goes in a drink, and “South Park” is a park. You might have to teach them some new words yourself…like “profit”!
  1. If you hire them into IT, they might call you a “PBTKAC” (Problem Between The Keyboard And Chair).
  1. Tattoo and body piercing comparisons become commonplace during work breaks.
  1. Even the interns you recruit will expect stock options.
  1. They have the loyalty of a double agent and will leave the minute the market reverses or the surf is up. If you want loyalty, buy a dog.
  1. Their idea of dress-down day is a little extreme: “Naked Fridays.”
  1. If you make them mad, they might buy the whole company (with their dot com fortunes) and fire your butt.
  1. They might not be very talented, because the primary selection criteria for getting their job at a dot-com might have been…”failing” the drug test!

<*SPONSORMESSAGE*> Other Reasons Why To Avoid Recruiting At Dot-Coms (and why “corporate depression” should keep many smart “dot-com’ers” away from larger firms) On a more serious note, some other reasons to be cautious when recruiting at dot-coms include:

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  • They have no fear of failure, which can be a liability in such industries as medicine and drugs.
  • They have a sense of urgency which can frustrate them when they have to “go through channels” and follow procedures.
  • They are used to constantly “living on the edge.” Routine tasks may bore them.
  • They are almost certain to have had zero formal training when they were at the no-frills start-up. They may be behind in some areas.
  • They are generally “idea” people, so don’t expect them to be good managers or process people.
  • Their number one motivator may be money (and a lot of it…fast). That makes managing them difficult in slower-growth firms.
  • They may not be able to work in a “diverse” environment. They are used to working with people with similar backgrounds and ages.
  • They may be so used to quick fixes and putting on “Band-Aids” that they do not know how to build long-term solutions.
  • They are used to making rapid decisions with inadequate information. Building a consensus and waiting for the data to come in may frustrate them.
  • Since getting there fast and first is the key to success in the dot-com world they might not know how to “work their way up” in an industry and to compete over the long haul.
  • Selling to venture capitalists may require different skills than selling to customers. They might not know how to meet and sell a customer face to face (as opposed to through a web page).
  • They are used to working late, but coming in early may not be their strong point.
  • Co-workers who are used to the “older/slower” way are likely to sabotage their ideas to protect “the culture” (and their jobs).
  • They may expect to have an opportunity to help shape a company and to make a difference, which might not be as easy in a large bureaucracy.
  • They are used to directly e-mailing top executives or just “walking in.” This can be a no-no in a structured hierarchy.
  • Any culture that demands detailed plans and meetings in order to prepare for meetings will frustrate them.
  • Since most dot-com’ers are relatively young two question arise: 1) Will a “father/ mother” figure allow him or herself to be managed by a younger but more skilled person? and 2) If they didn’t listen to you at home when they called you Mom or Dad, what makes you think they will listen to you now just because you are called “boss”!

* Now don’t get me wrong. I’ve had the opportunity to work at two dot-com start-ups and to advise many more. Many of my best students have gone the dot-com route. The people you find there are often excellent?but that doesn’t mean they are ready for “corporate life.” And at the large firms I have worked at, we had to invent a term for how these energetic, bright people reacted to “dinosaur policies” and people that changed “at the speed of rock”…we called it “Corporate Depression”. It was a real and an all-too-frequent dot-com’er reaction to the corporate bureaucracy and the “evil monkeys” that thrived in it!

Dr. John Sullivan, professor, author, corporate speaker, and advisor, is an internationally known HR thought-leader from the Silicon Valley who specializes in providing bold and high-business-impact talent management solutions.

He’s a prolific author with over 900 articles and 10 books covering all areas of talent management. He has written over a dozen white papers, conducted over 50 webinars, dozens of workshops, and he has been featured in over 35 videos. He is an engaging corporate speaker who has excited audiences at over 300 corporations/ organizations in 30 countries on all six continents. His ideas have appeared in every major business source including the Wall Street Journal, Fortune, BusinessWeek, Fast Company, CFO, Inc., NY Times, SmartMoney, USA Today, HBR, and the Financial Times. In addition, he writes for the WSJ Experts column. He has been interviewed on CNN and the CBS and ABC nightly news, NPR, as well many local TV and radio outlets. Fast Company called him the "Michael Jordan of Hiring," called him “the father of HR metrics,” and SHRM called him “One of the industry's most respected strategists." He was selected among HR’s “Top 10 Leading Thinkers” and he was ranked No. 8 among the top 25 online influencers in talent management. He served as the Chief Talent Officer of Agilent Technologies, the HP spinoff with 43,000 employees, and he was the CEO of the Business Development Center, a minority business consulting firm in Bakersfield, California. He is currently a Professor of Management at San Francisco State (1982 – present). His articles can be found all over the Internet and on his popular website and on He lives in Pacifica, California.



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