Friday, February 15, 2008

Playing Hard to Get? You May Be Letting the Best Get Away

I have friend who is a genius at sales. And a well-respected HR services company in her adopted home town just missed out on being able to recruit her. The reason? They played hard to get. So she got away. Even though she is one of the highest producers in her city, her recruiters bogged down the interview process with so much emphasis on process and track record that she finally just got disgusted and withdrew her candidacy. It wasn't that she wasn't game to talk turkey in terms of her past successes, it's just that this hiring company wanted her successes to have been measured precisely in the ways *they* measure successes (which means she would have had to convert her track record of the last four years into *their* terms...and they were never really clear about what those terms are).

This ridiculous, unimaginative way to dealing with her taught her an essential truth about this company: They were more interested in processes than in relationship building (which is her personal secret to her amazing success). And that would be a definite cultural mismatch. So she said "buh bye." And so this company flung her back into the hiring ocean, perhaps to be caught by one of their competitors. Not good.

It's popular today to say, "We hire for passion, train for skills." Sounds good, but do you really? Or is this just something you'd like to *think* you do? Over recent years I've seen example after example of companies allowing true stars to slip through their fingers. Why? Because their hiring managers are dispirited doofusses who have no nose for sniffing out passionate talent -- or talented passion, whichever you prefer. They're so focused on checklists, track records and certifications, that they're looking down at their clipboard and not bothering to glance up to catch the sparkle of enthusiasm in the eyes of the candidates.

Your best candidates aren't ever going to have a resume that looks like a coffee drinker's frequent customer's card. All the holes won't necessarily be punched precisely the way you want them to be. And there's no way you can anticipate precisely every single little credential and ability that your company will need in the immediate, middle or distant future. So throw the clipboard away!

What you can be absolutely certain of is this: Your company is going to need employees who love their work so much that they are constantly learning and creatively putting together experiences, relationships and skills that will help them ask all the necessary questions whose answers will help your company grow.

If you're having trouble finding and recruiting passionate people who will give their all to your company, take a good look at your hiring managers and recruiters. How passionate are *they* about your company and its critical mission? Are they hiring to make the world a better place? Or are they hiring to fill their quotas? Do they know how essential passion is to your company's particular mojo? Or are they just checking the boxes? Are they inspired and excited about your company's mission? Or is their resume in circulation as well?

There are two sayings I want to introduce here: It takes one to know one. If that's the case, make sure that the people who are in charge of sifting through the candidates (from writing job descriptions all the way through the processes to the person making the final offer) love their work and are over the moon about their jobs and your company!

The other saying I'm fond of, especially after speaking to my friend this morning. It comes from a friend of hers who gave her this advice during their dating years: "If you play too hard to get, you won't get got."

Get it?

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