Hiring the whole person (not those gingerbread men or women)

“I recommend that you hire someone with a less-conventional story if you want the people on your team to innovate and collaborate in the way this new-millennium workplace requires.”

– Liz Ryan, Forbes.

Next time you’re hiring, challenge your thinking about who would be ‘right’ for the job by asking yourself a few simple questions:

  • Does the candidate really need a defined career history or specific qualifications?
  • Are their skills and capabilities more important than their attitudes and values?
  • Do they have valuable experience outside of work, such as involvement with community, sport, arts, family etc, which they could bring to role?

When looking for the ‘right’ candidate, hiring managers often take the cookie-cutter approach: they select an obvious match to the skills, experience and career path of the incumbent or job description. Liz Ryan, a former HR Senior Vice President in a Fortune 500 company, has written in Forbes about why this is a bad idea. “Cookie-cutter candidates who have the exact experience detailed in the job ad and who have perfectly linear, manicured and stepwise career paths are seldom the best hires, in my experience,” she says.

Working on a recent assignment got me thinking along the same lines: We need to look at the whole person, not a tick sheet of have they finished this, completed that, and moved from one role up the ladder to the next.

The role I was recruiting was for quite a traditional market, so I was pleasantly surprised when the employer hired the candidate who had a more varied background than other candidates. When providing feedback, the employer explained that their chosen candidate demonstrated entrepreneurial spirit and a growth mindset, which they valued highly in comparison with other candidates (who were all equally capable of doing the job).

Ryan’s advice rings true in this case, where more rounded life experience has paid dividends. Top candidates are also looking for employers who have an open-minded approach. Over the years in business I have observed successful leaders often held a variety of roles across different sectors. This has enabled them to take the best from each experience and contribute to their evolution as visionaries. LinkedIn has compiled some inspiring lists of its Top Voices, which include diverse examples of influencers, entrepreneurs, management and organisational culture experts, as well as those organisations who rank as Top Attractors for talented individuals.

Encouraging diversity within your team will help shake-up your current thinking, bring new dynamics, and offers a variety of perspectives – or as Ryan says, “When in doubt, hire the quirky candidate.”

Have you ditched the cookie-cutter? What are some of the innovative qualities you look for in candidates for when hiring?

Stuart Carruthers

Stuart has extensive experience in Consumer and FMCG markets, including general management, account management, business development and sales & marketing roles. He is experienced in commercial strategy at executive level and has held regional management positions with major multi-national companies working across the majority of states in Australia. Over the years Stuart has recruited nationally and internationally within the Asia Pacific region. With first-hand knowledge of key drivers and the dynamics of the Australian consumer market, he takes a consultative approach to targeted search.

Stuart Carruthers
Senior Consultant
Slade Executive Recruitment
Level 7, 15 William Street
Melbourne VIC 3000
Tel: +61 3 9235 5100
scarruthers@sladegroup.com.au
sladegroup.com.au

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Posted in Slade Executive, The world @work
2 comments on “Hiring the whole person (not those gingerbread men or women)
  1. Rosario Bucca says:

    Good points… Unfortunately the common behaviour is to hire candidates that are aligned with the job description and better if they come from the same business environment, managing the same channels etc etc…I do believe this approach is a huge mistake………..

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