Maybe You Aren’t Looking For Talent in the Right Places


Finding talent to grow, change or build your business can be a daunting task.  Many organizations are in markets that are limited to resources and opportunity while others, rich with those same things, struggle to find good talent.


Because of an extensive early career background in human resources, coupled with the business work I do now, I have many who seek my advice in their job search.  Their stories have become too familiar and in some instances anyone who has been in a job search can identify with them.  What we will do here is use those experiences to show you a more effective way to recruit talent.  That effectiveness starts with the hiring party, the business owner or leader.

Often the hiring party has a list of things they want the new person they are seeking to be and do.  It comes with industry, education, years of experience, education, license and certification, and so forth.  The business owner most often has this list because that is either what the last person possessed or this is what someone told them this person had to have.

Then a recruiting process takes place and a person who can check off every one of those requirements is sought.  The process takes a long time, maybe an identical match is found and the business moves forward with their new hire…and little changes in the business.  What has occurred is a real world application of Einstein’s definition of insanity, we have done the exact same thing and expected different results.  It didn’t work.

So what to do.  The first step is to change how we think. Most often businesses want someone from the exact same industry they are.  Most often this can be a critical mistake.  I’ll use a multi-site retail business to illustrate.  They are looking for a leader, someone who knows retail the way they do it, who has lots of retail leadership experience.  They would never consider looking at someone with no retail experience.  They would never think that someone who, for example, lead a multi-site dental practice or a multi-site beauty shop could ever be a leader in multi-site retail; and they would be mistaken.   Beyond the obvious, that leadership is leadership, we have the other qualifications to consider.  The ability to work with different locations and the diversity of operations that comes with that.  The ability to address different rules in different locations be that city, county or states.  The understanding of creating a common link between multiple locations.  Perhaps that person has demonstrated adding millions of dollars in value to their previous employers; perhaps those employers just were not in your industry.  Consider the person who just submitted their application who possesses everything you want except one thing, they exact specific industry you are in.  Perhaps they had it years ago or perhaps never.  Business is business and in most instances, even when industry pride claims “ours is different”, it remains the same.  Further, they difference in perspective can be a significant value-added outcome. 

Imagine if service businesses operated more like manufacturing businesses and manufacturing businesses operated more like service businesses.  Each has much to learn from the other in almost every conceivable role.

The recruiting process becomes so obsessed with lists and checking off each individual item on that list that it loses sight of the key objective…to find talent.  Someone who has a fundamental understanding of work, the skills they bring, the discipline or trade they perform AND who can quickly learn the nuances of your business or industry.

To do this is relatively simple.  Everyone wants a list and the Internet is full of lists to find talent.  So here is my list:

                  Get rid of the list

                  Know your businesses strategic plan or business objectives

                  Understand what it will take to achieve that

                   Know your business culture and find others who embrace it

                   Understand what it takes to do a job

This is called knowledge of YOUR business or function.  This is knowing what you do and doing it so well that it can adapt to any environment or situation.  It is Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities.  It is experience

Ask yourself this question;  Would you rather have a highly skilled individual from a different industry or level of experience than what you think you need, or would you rather the position either remain open or you hire a lesser skilled and experienced individual who is from your industry?  Most often you will find the exact match isn’t really what you want and at best it will give you the same things you had before.  To truly grow, change or build you more often than not need to go outside of your comfort