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5 Ways Silicon Valley Startups Can Still Hire Rockstars

In Silicon Valley, startups are always competing for top talent, technical or otherwise. But just because the industry heavyweights already have most of them hired, doesn't mean the new guys can't have their share of their own "rockstars."

Rockstars, ninjas, wizards, and gurus... regardless of how you feel about using these titles to describe a star employee, you know exactly who these guys are. They’re the elusive hires that are A) expensive, and B) out of reach for most non-unicorn startups.

Or are they?

Sure there’s a talent shortage for these hard-to-find superstars, but this doesn’t mean you can’t score your very own. It’s all about thinking outside the box. Here are five ways to make sure you land your dream team in the seemingly dried up Silicon Valley talent pool.

Create a Rockstar-Friendly Workplace

One thing that will help find your rockstar team is to make your worksite a place they’d want to work in. Know that rockstars look beyond how much they make when looking for the right job.

According to a study by, 87 percent of the employees they surveyed said their ideal companies heavily prioritize their well-being. Of course, salary is a big consideration, but not without the employee-care factor.

Google, for example, has established itself as one of the penultimate examples of an all-out awesome workplace, it’s not a surprise most rockstars would give anything to be part of their teams.

So, how can you be a little more like Google with your workplace? You can start with:

  • Providing free meals — from morning coffee to midnight snacks for night shift staff
  • A free shuttle that transports your teams to and from work
  • Fun rewards for a job well done like office massages, haircuts, or online subscription credit

Note that these perks are flexible and nothing’s stopping you from customizing your own. Anything that will make your employee feel valued is more than enough. Choose the ones you think would properly convey your brand and then go from there.

Redefine Your Company’s Rockstar Standards

When looking for your rockstar, it’s easy to default to the basic traits that define these awesome employees. It won’t be enough though to help you find a killer developer, engineer, writer, or manager. In 2013, for example, StarFish Medical, a Canadian medical-device services company, needed a rockstar production manager. Instead of hiring out, they promoted their already awesome lead production tech. Sure he had rockstar traits, but his forte wasn’t in management. This ended up with the newly promoted manager leaving StarFish since he didn’t flourish in his new role.

To nab the right superstar for your team, first find someone who’s great at what he or she does, and then make sure that person has rockstar quality.

Looking Beyond the Valley

Most, if not all, the rockstars in the Valley are already employed. Luckily, this doesn’t have to be a recruitment roadblock, since you’ve literally got a world of options by tapping the global talent pool.

Global talent is a solution for the local talent shortage. Developing countries, in particular, are home to many excellent potential rockstars you can have for your team.

It can be daunting to venture into the global recruitment stage, but with some help, it can be a piece of cake. Finding the right partner companies, who are experienced at recruiting, screening, and hiring rockstar-quality staff would be your best bet for smoothly expanding your recruitment resources.  

Find Passionate Rockstars

In today’s rapidly changing business environment, companies need passionate workers who can drive extreme and sustained performance improvements—more than the one-time performance “bump” that follows a bonus or the implementation of a worker engagement initiative.

A study by Deloitte, however, says that up to 87.7 percent of America’s workforce is not able to contribute to their full potential because they don’t have passion for their work.

So, how do you find passionate employees? Unlike other traits, spotting passion is easy. A passionate employee..

  • shows eagerness in learning and continuously improving his performance
  • is more focused on what he can do for the company rather than the other way around
  • can influence their fellow workers to care as much as they do about achieving even the smallest goals.

Watch out for these traits on your next interview, and you should find yourself a keeper.

Find People Who Fit Your Company Culture

Another important factor in finding your rockstar is how he would fit in your company. Company culture fit is as important as their technical qualifications. Even if you find your rockstar, without proper culture fit, he wouldn’t be able to thrive in your company.

A study done by Mark Murphy, founder and CEO of Leadership IQ, revealed that 89 percent of new hires  leave a company due to bad culture fit. Only 11 percent of new hires failed due to lack of skill.

At its core, cultural fit means that employees' beliefs and behaviors are aligned with their employer's core values and company culture. A study by Kristof-Brown showed that employees who fit well with their organization, culture and coworkers had greater job satisfaction, identified more with their company, were more likely to remain with their organization, were more committed, and showed superior job performance.

Here are questions you can ask during your interview to assess culture fit:

  • What type of culture do you thrive in?
  • What values are you drawn to and what’s your ideal workplace?
  • Why do you want to work here?
  • How would you describe our culture based on what you’ve seen? Is this something that works for you?
  • What best practices would you bring with you from another organization? Do you see yourself being able to implement these best practices in our environment?

When looking for the right people for your team, it’s important to know that you shouldn’t be limited to your local talent pool, especially if you’re looking for rockstars. Keep these five tips in mind, and you should be a step closer to forming an all-star, global team.

Expand your search and access a rich, global pool. Visit our website at and start building your offshore remote team within a day.


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Edsel Mendoza
About the Author

Ed Mendoza is the head of business operations at Bolton Remote, where he is at the forefront of ensuring Bolton remote teams are at their best and fully equipped with everything they need to perform their roles alongside the fast-growing companies they work with. He's also a strong advocate for helping companies address their doubts about going remote.

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