Where Netflix’s bid for competitive talent falls short of the mark


The tech industry is facing an urgent personnel problem. By 2026, US Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the software developer deficit will exceed 1.2 million. As the demand for skilled workers continues to rise, companies with the deepest pockets and most of the prestige will have a huge advantage.

Netflix is ​​one of those companies. Plus, you haven’t wasted time taking advantage of your current market position. Last year, the streaming giant dethroned Google as the top technology employer, a victory many people attribute to its two-pronged strategy of employer brand and posting impressive starting salaries (ranging from $ 70,000 to $ 850,000).

Delving into the Netflix problem

While it may sound appealing, Netflix’s branding strategy falls short. But why?

Building an employer brand primarily around salary offers is superficial.

It is superficial because there is no story there and there is certainly nothing to set it apart when competitors start offering similar compensation. Instead, Netflix (and other companies) should do the following:

1. Consider quality versus number of employees

Without a doubt, the creation of a employee-led podcast and offering higher wages will increase volume of applicants. After all, 75% of job seekers say they are attracted to companies that actively manage their employer’s brand, and 80% of HR leaders they agree that the employer brand helps them attract talent.

But consider this: you already need 23 more days to hire technological talent than to fill other roles. Now that Netflix recruiters are attracting almost everyone, they will have to fight their way through a flood of applicants to find the highest quality candidates. The result? Further extending the time required to recruit and onboard top-tier talent.

2. Justify the highest salary

Getting people through doors is only half the equation. The way I see it, Netflix failed to establish a tangible link between their higher salaries and why It is such a revered place to work. Nor has he clarified what it takes to thrive as a Netflix employee from day one.

It’s about telling high-quality candidates, “Here’s what you need to be prepared to put into this organization in order to reap the benefits of a higher salary.”

With this give-and-take approach, Netflix gets the message that it pays more in the market, while setting workplace expectations that explain why only high-caliber talent will be chosen to receive those benefits.

3. Tell a more compelling story

There is something beautiful about a cohesive culture where people strive for success and improvement together. That is a story that everyone likes to hear. Great business leaders can push their teams beyond what those teams thought possible because of their history and the purpose behind the journey they are on.

Salary is not a compelling story in and of itself, and it may not even be the competitive advantage it once was. The average salary for a software developer has been on an upward trend for a while now. In May 2020, for example, the mean annual salary was $ 110,140 for software developers, the lowest 10% of workers earn less than $ 65,210 and the highest 10% earn more than $ 170,100. So, companies have two options:

  • Outsource your tech work to Eastern European countries like Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Poland, and Romania, which have huge IT manpower reserves and cheaper rates.
  • Pay your employees prices in London, New York or San Francisco to keep up with industry averages.

Yes, money will always be important. But when paying engineers and developers high salaries becomes the norm; Job seekers will turn their attention to something more compelling and differentiating, like the promise of taking part in revolutionary technological advancements. Unfortunately, Netflix is ​​not yet telling those stories.

4. Position a job at Netflix as a professional catalyst

As a leader, you want to paint a picture that speaks to the purpose of your organization: how you are disrupting the market; how you are stretching what is possible; and how, if an employee stays with your company, you will be set for long-term success.

That’s the difference between an average developer who takes a job for money and a developer who is passionate about their work and looking to be part of a company known for driving people toward career success. Unfortunately, Netflix has missed an opportunity to cement its reputation as a professional catalyst rather than just an employer.

Where does Netflix go from here?

Netflix is ​​at a crossroads. Gone are the days of being a struggling startup struggling to get to the top.

Netflix has already reached the realm of being a “massive corporate entity.”

So Netflix has grown into a gigantic corporate entity, and in the process, its employer branding became much more transactional: “Come work for us and we’ll pay you big bucks.”

This sterile history of employer branding leaves Netflix very open to competitors – that is, smaller startups with high ambition and the ability to drive high-quality candidates around a mission. As a result, the company can adjust its outreach approach to emphasize the tangible value of the brand or risk losing great talent at companies with more strategic hiring plans and a stronger employer brand.

Image credit: thibault penn; unpack thank you!

Bryan adams

CEO and founder of Ph.Creative

Bryan Adams is the CEO and founder of Ph.Creative, an employer branding agency that has created world-class employer brands and talent engagement strategies for companies such as Apple and American Airlines. He is also co-author of the book “Give & Get Employer Branding”.


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