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Talent Wars: Can Startups Compete with Big Tech?

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Talent Wars: Can Startups Compete with Big Tech?

​Talent wars define today’s tech space as ambitious startups face a persistent glaring issue – how can they compete with their Big Tech overlords?

Trust in Big Tech took a hit at the start of the year, and the wiliest startups are poised to take full advantage. The smaller underdogs have a chance to bite back in the talent space, threatening Big Tech’s historic dominance.

If you’re waging a talent war of your own, it’s worth thinking about the key differentiators separating startups from their big tech counterparts.


The back-to-work debacle is dragging candidates and employers into the mud. Big Tech wants people back in the office (despite being an early proponent of remote work), and it’s causing friction among the candidates.

Startups have an opportunity to give candidates the remote flexibility they need. Here at Trust in SODA, we’ve had conversations with plenty of candidates who put remote work at the top of the priority list, even taking big pay cuts in favour of less time in the office.

Remote working options are now so important to the modern jobseeker, that many startups have resorted to adopting a virtual-first working model. Could this be an effective way to negate the resources advantage that Big Tech has to offer? It certainly looks like a good jumping-off point.

Transparency and Accountability

Candidates are searching for meaningful work – there’s no shortage of it in the tech space, but despite the options, Big Tech disillusionment has left many candidates questioning their place in the industry.

A historic lack of transparency and accountability has sparked fears of human rights infringements in US big tech, with Amnesty International calling for greater regulation.

Herein lies a chance for purpose-led startups to steal the spotlight, and all it takes is some integrity. Transparent and accountable companies are a refreshing sight in a space that’s short on trust. What resonates with a candidate? A value proposition, a vision, a purpose, and a mission that you’re actively working to achieve. Are you accountable for your progress?

  • Every candidate is unique, and so are their wants and needs when it comes to the world of work. For some, value-based work is a priority, whereas others would rather chase the money wherever it goes – it’s important to understand who you’re pitching your business to.


If you’re struggling to fill niche positions because you’re losing out to the bigger remuneration packages, an equity offering could be a workaround. Interesting, daring, and ambitious startups often represent immense stock value appreciation, an attractive proposition for many potential candidates.

Plus, if your candidate is eager for the startup life, offering equity could help seal the deal (often, people looking out for this are willing to risk the long-term approach).

Recruitment can be a make-or-break function for most businesses, let alone a startup with the odds stacked against them. Then again, that’s part of what makes the journey so rewarding.

If you need any support with your talent search, the SODA squad would love to help. Our specialised consultants take a community-led approach to hiring, and we’ve worked with some of the most exciting startups around. The right tech talent is hard to find without support, especially if you’re busy running a business.

Reach out to us today to find out more about our tailor-made recruitment solutions (or a chat about tech, we’re obsessed with that too).