Those of us who bring a lot of creative thinking to the hiring process often feel that our hands are tied.
Occasionally, there is the hiring executive who will agree to meet the oddball candidate, or who will let you make a case for the exception, the candidate who doesn't have the prescribed credentials, or whose resume is less than perfect and yet your professional judgment or even your time-proven hunch tells you this could be "the one." Many times the formula is too well-ingrained into the hiring process, or worse yet, there is too much fear, to let those who do not fit preconceived notions enter into consideration.
I understand. Hiring is a scary, risky business because making a mistake has repercussions. I get this. I am deeply sobered by what my clients entrust to me. But still...
As I continue reading The Rare Find by George Anders, the following jumped out at me:
...the sorry truth is that hiring norms in recent decades keep leaving less room for individual perspectives. In big organizations especially, the notion of hunting for talent in quirky ways evokes shudders. Formulaic conformity feels safer. In the rearranged world, hiring becomes a labored exercise in not making mistakes, rather than an ambitious hunt for greatness.
Anders mentions big organizations, but understandably small businesses and startups are at times even more careful, and sometimes fearful, in their hiring practices because when the team is smaller each hire represents a greater proportion of the company.
As someone who is painstaking in the hiring process, I am not suggesting carelessness, but, rather, more openness. As Anders writes elsewhere in this book:
When you are exploring, ask: "What can go right?" Most conventional assessment is all about finding candidates' flaws. That's appropriate in the final stages of selection, when top-tier candidates have already established their allure. But...the outer fringes of talent work differently.* Great discoveries happen only if assessors are willing to suspend their skepticism at first, so that the underdogs get a chance to show a spark of promise.
I am looking for those opportunities to help companies search for greatness. It is out there in unexpected packages and places and I want to find it -- I have found it before. Taking a more open-minded, creative approach, leaving the pack, this is what will give a few special companies the leading edge.
*Anders uses as an example, Facebook's use of puzzles to attract candidates that recruiters might miss, with the hire of Evan Priestly being a prime example.