The Boston Boom Part Two: Brand Buy-In

As a startup founder, you may have come from the big tech scene to launch a business that capitalizes on the knowledge you have in the industry. But it can be an adjustment to adapt away from a world of “corporate colleagues” to developing a new network of fellow entrepreneurs and founders. This is where you’re going to benefit from a candidate with that niche, supplementary market knowledge and who knows how to move and shake in the New England way. 

Realistically, you’re going to want to have some key talent that has some presence in your timezone and is familiar with the market and your customers. They should have credibility and experience to support your growth and reputation. So, if local talent is still high up on the agenda, how can you source and, importantly, engage with it if the demand is high and the supply is thin?

As we reflect on StartUp Boston Week, it’s vital to consider how to engage with your wider talent pool and combat the new demand for increased salaries in traditionally cheaper markets. This is where a carefully considered employer brand that raises awareness of your business and expands your network comes into play. Regardless of the branding you have done in the past, you need to make it clear as to what it is like to work for you today in the fall of 2021. You can’t control the salaries and perks your competitors can offer, but you can control your own culture and employee experience. 

With world leading education facilities such as MIT, Harvard and Boston University located on Boston’s doorstep, the assumption is often that access to these college graduates comes with the territory. Traditionally, these candidates don’t stick around – they’re globally in demand and they know it. But, with the talent landscape in its current state of flux, now could be the time to change this. Can startups entice top talent to stay so they don’t need to recruit from across the country? Building meaningful university relationships is key to starting your talent pipeline for the future. An intern or Co-op today may not be the next hire, but they may be perfect in three years when they want to come back to Boston and have a bit more experience. The more connections you make, the better your future pipeline becomes. 

If the general perception is that location doesn’t matter as much when looking for a new role, it’s time for startups to capitalize on that. Engaging with these local institutions to establish partnerships and co-ops that connect with the relevant talent early in their education may just make the case for them to stick around after graduating. 

Securing this ‘Boston Brand’ buy-in at a pace that matches your scaling plans can be one of the greatest challenges for a founder to do by themselves. Having key candidates that get the Boston work ethic, understand the market and are connected to customers can make it that much easier. 

Sourcing Startup Skills

Don’t forget to tap into the returning talent too. There are candidates who left Boston to study and have graduated from College, returning home following the challenges of the pandemic talent landscape: show them why Boston is the place to be. Yes, it’s important to ask yourself who you’re connecting with that are in the area, but also who are you connecting with that used to be in the area?

You should also establish an Employee Value Proposition which drives an emotional connection between your company and the candidate in this competitive talent market. Differentiate your startup brand from the big names that are just shipping in candidates from around the country. It doesn’t have to be brick and mortar talent – if it’s feasible to hire further afield, it’s possible to look to connect with external talent that has a familiarity with the local market from a previous role. This can be a good way to avoid the fight for the already highly in-demand talent already working in Boston.

By clearly defining your employer brand, you can show why your business is the right choice for the candidate and why the candidate will want to scale their career with you. As we navigate the wave of this Boston Boom, startups must maximize the tools and resources they have to hand. Tailor your messaging and define your brands to cut through the noise and supercharge your post-pandemic growth potential.