If you want to attract a better caliber of candidates, honor the work. Show some respect for the job you are trying to fill and more of the right people will come forward. In recruiting top performers, honoring the work matters as much as anything else you do.
How do you think recruiting is going for the Navy SEALS right about now? Articles about how tough it is only make it more attractive to the right candidates ( “Want to be a Navy SEAL? Tough is just the Start”).
Results oriented people want challenge – there is no honor in easy. Top performers want you to have high expectations. But they need to know that YOU know this is going to be tough. They need to know that YOU know this is important work to be done.
There is an apocryphal story told about the intrepid Antarctic Explorer Ernest Shackleton (1874-1922). He ran a small ad for crew members for his expedition to the South Pole. The text of the ad read:
“MEN WANTED FOR HAZARDOUS JOURNEY. SMALL WAGES, BITTER COLD, LONG MONTHS OF COMPLETE DARKNESS, CONSTANT DANGER, SAFE RETURN DOUBTFUL. HONOR AND RECOGNITION IN CASE OF SUCCESS.”
He was swamped with applicants. Whether the story is true or not, there is a reason it is often retold – we love it when someone just “tells it like it is” and we all long for the chance to do something lasting and honorable.
I am grateful to all the heroes who defend our freedom, the heroes who run into burning buildings when everyone else is running out, the heroes who take risks and face danger, who rebuild disaster areas, who serve the forgotten, and who stand up for others when they cannot stand for themselves. Long after the headlines fade and the media attention moves on, there is honor in work, and honor in a job well done.
Every job matters. Find the honor in the work, and you’ll find someone who will be honored to do it well.