As a board member I am often actively engaged in helping to recruit new hires to a company. A lot of people have written about the importance of cultural fit. I want to add the idea of “mission desire” to the characteristics companies should look for. That’s not just true for companies that would self identify as mission driven (as in having a social component to their business) but all companies. By mission desire I mean a candidate’s desire to work in this particular domain and on the specific set of problems the company is going after. This is distinct from cultural fit — you could get along very well with someone but that doesn’t mean they care about what you are working on.
Why does this matter? First because it will help keep salary and equity inflation in check. People who buy into the mission and are excited by it will be willing to trade that off on the margin for compensation. That’s not to say that you can and should be cheap but rather that you can use it to stem excessive demands. Conversely you should question anybody’s professed mission desire if they then proceed to ask you to match or do better than competitive offers. Mission desire also plays a critical role in providing resiliency. Inevitably. a company will hit bumps in the road. How quickly people head for the exits will depend a lot on how much they care about the mission.
We all want the best people to work for the company. But always keep in mind that there is no absolute best in these situations. Only a relative best for the particular position at this company given its culture and its mission.
PS There may or may not be more blog posts before the end of this year as I will be information dieting (and vacationing).