It’s Tuesday afternoon and Dave, your finance manager, walks into your office with an envelope in his hand. You think, “Uh oh, he’s resigning.”
He indeed resigns, and the moment he leaves you grab the phone to call HR. “I need to replace Dave. Please start recruiting another finance manager, pronto!”
Down in HR, Sheila looks up the old job description, asks if you want any changes, and gets the job posted on a few job boards. Weeks go by, and as the resumes roll in, you efficiently weed out all the people who are not currently in a similar role. You’re thinking, “I don’t have time to train someone to do this job, I’m already weeks behind.” In the interest of saving time, and because you are now understaffed and overworked, you only select the resumes that appear to be the closest fit to the job.
But you actually started wasting time the moment you called HR, because you failed to ask the right question before you hastily launched into your recruiting effort.
You began your search by looking for people who already look like your job description. You only considered your own needs and forgot to think about why someone great would want this job. (Look in a mirror Narcissus, I’m talking to you).
Managers almost always get this wrong and put far too much emphasis on finding “perfect” resumes when selecting who to interview. But recruiting professionals know that a bad resume sometimes hides a good candidate, and worse, a great resume often hides an ineffective candidate.
When Dave left your office, you should have asked yourself, “Why would a top performer want to work in Dave’s job?” Everything changes by asking that one little question.
Seriously, if you want to find the best possible person for your open job, stop thinking about what you want, and start thinking about what that ideal candidate wants. It sounds a bit like a paradox, but this bit of mental jujitsu makes it far more likely that you’ll actually end up getting what you want.
When you think of your new employee first, you won’t look for a perfect match in their current skills and responsibilities – you’ll look at whether their background and current skills could lead to success in the new position. You’ll focus on why the position would be an appealing next move for a driven, hard-working up-and-comer.
But to find them, you have to open your eyes to their needs. The go-getters might look less perfect on paper. They haven’t accomplished what you want for the position yet, or they took a risk that didn’t work out. But they have the resilience, drive and grit to get the results you need.
When top performers change jobs, they want a position that offers something they don’t already have on their resume – something that takes their career into a new, unfamiliar realm. Maybe your ideal candidate wants to work on a larger scale, supervise a larger team, or master a new skill. Maybe she wants the prestige of working for your organization, or the pleasure of being a bigger fish in your smaller pond.
Top performers are always looking for the next rung up on their career ladder. If all you offer is the same rung they’re already on, they’ll turn you down … only to climb right past you in another organization.