Roadblocks to Hiring - Assumption Two

Last week, we covered why Founders always need to be proactive and ready to sell when it comes to avoiding the first hiring roadblock. Today, we discuss the second assumption that leads to a lot of hiring roadblocks: 


Hiring a brand name is to hire a leader who is recognized in the industry and therefore trusted. They are a household name in their industry or product category. 

Founders often do this because there is this persistent belief that hiring a candidate with a brand name results in the company having an increased perceived value, credibility, and will attract other leaders or investors to join.

While this can be particularly useful for startup companies looking to establish themselves in a crowded marketplace or for companies looking to enter a new market, the reality is hiring a brand name can be expensive and does not guarantee success

The Reality

One of the considerations in attempting to hire a brand name candidate for an ELT position is whether this brand name senior-level persona is necessary for the outcome you are seeking from that hire. 


  • How strategic vs. tactical is the role?
  • Will this position be more than just running the function and instead require someone to strategize and envision at the level that a brand name hire would expect?
  • Is the company ready for a culture change? (This will likely happen when a brand name is hired)

Overcoming the Assumption

To overcome this assumption, it is crucial to grasp the underlying reasons behind the decision to hire. First, figure out why the brand name is actually needed. In addition to actual growth needs, we’ve seen Founders hire brand names for:

  • Ego (their name brand to be associated with the company brand)
  • Insecurity (a brand name to validate the business),
  • Or were influenced (suggested or pushed into the hire)

None of those are good reasons. While we are not suggesting to never hire a brand name - we are saying it’s critical to examine any assumption that you need to. 

Our experience recruiting for Angel or Series A startups has taught us that many early-stage companies lack the cash to attract brand name level talent, the time to pursue them, and the willingness to part with ownership levels of equity to motivate them.

Next week, we finish the series covering the last roadblock hiring assumption: "We need someone to get sh*t done."

Does this sound like your hiring challenge? Don’t want to wait until next week? Subscribe now and get the articles in your inbox today!