Everyone’s Racing to the Future—What place are you in?

Idea lightbulb

Working in tech means hard work and long hours. It’s different than all of your other friends’ “boring” 9-to-5 jobs where they don’t get it when you’re still on email at 10 p.m., or are living and breathing the company you’ve invested yourself in. But besides the hard work and the long hours, the hardest part about being at a startup is being first. Being first to succeed in your industry with a great product — a product that you and your team are constantly making better. The trouble is now that challenge has become even harder, because for every one idea there’s another that is just as great — and now it’s a race against the clock to see who’s the best.

Take a look at CES (the Consumer Electronics Show, which was held Jan. 7-10 in Las Vegas.) By now everyone who attended is saying, “There’s the LG Lifeband Touch that has a touch-sensitive OLED display that will track how far you’ve walked, your steps taken, while keeping a digital eye on your heart rate. Then there’s this other band that’s similar — the Razer Nabu, a water resistant wristband that’s crammed with sensors to track movement and sleep quality.” Here’s the thing: That’s been happening to companies across the world, in different markets — every single second, of every single day for years. But now the difference is that the world has started changing and evolving faster than it ever has before.

So much so that companies have started racing to beat each other, to be the best of the best in their industry. In FastCompany’s, “The Coming Era of Magical Computing”, Om Malik writes:

This idea of anticipatory computing is going to be the next big change in our relationship with computers. And it’s coming more quickly than you realize… With a trend this big, Google and Apple are also spending millions racing to this future.

What does this mean for the tech startup community?

Besides the fact that everyone is now playing catch-up to create and competing to see who gets there first, companies are also competing for talent, more so now than they used to. Because while emerging companies/startups might have a great story or are doing something interesting, it’s a candidate’s market. The unemployment rate in tech is 3.3 percent, and so candidates approaching companies isn’t happening as often as you would think. Why? Because the competition for talent is fierce. Great talent is being approached daily.

In order for great startups to emerge as giants within their industries, they need more people to do things faster and better then ever before. Because of that, startups need to be able to differentiate their brand to candidates (who in the recruitment space are everyone in tech), reach candidates faster, and hire faster. Because if startups don’t start doing this, they’re going to get left behind in the dust of innovation and have an even harder challenge when it comes to telling their story.

Concur, Forbes’ No. 1 Most Innovative Growth Company in the World, has used Dice’s Open Web to tell its story to candidates and connect with them faster than its competitors. “We’re are at that phase where people don’t really know who we are, what we do and why we stand out against our competitors, like Expedia, which is literally down the street. We needed a way to drive talent to us and get our story out,” says the company’s Sara Flieschmann. If Forbes’ No. 1 Most Innovative Growth Company is having this issue, it’s safe to assume that every startup is having this issue. Because while other sites exist, they will help you bring on board talent, but don’t directly address tech. Your story to candidates gets lost in the noise.

Instead of companies shouting just as loud as everyone else and telling people “this is our story,” or relying on referrals within their network to supply them with an active pipeline of candidates (which never really happens), companies have to start going where their candidates are and start engaging with them in ways that they never have before. Because as a company, each time you start delaying a project or putting it onto another person’s shoulders, projects get stopped or get put on pause. The person you gave more work to gets frustrated and starts looking for new employment, or you aren’t able to push ahead and change/disrupt markets in the way you want to, and inevitably your competition beats you to talent.

Think about this: In today’s world, there are five jobs for every one Hadoop Developer, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and each time someone accepts a job, there are more options for others and fewer potential candidates for you as an employer. Email me so that you can beat your competitors to talent.