I firmly believe that most hiring managers are hiring the wrong people and most job seekers are trying to get hired for the wrong jobs.
If you’re on the hunt for your next (much better) job, I want to give you a few tips on how to make sure your job is a fabulous one past the first six months. For hiring managers, I want to share with you how you can set yourself up for hiring a great employee who will stay motivated, productive, and happy for the longer term.
Here’s what happens all the time…
The hiring manager (let’s call her Susan) desperately needs to fill a position on her team. The recruiter is asked to be faithful to the demanding job description and bring in only the best fitting candidates. Susan doesn’t want someone who will need much hand holding or training because she’s already so slammed. The new employee will have to hit the ground running.
Several candidates get rejected because they meet only 60-70% of the listed job requirements... even though they have clear talent and potential. Finally, the dream candidate comes along (we’ll call him Biff). Biff confidently takes the job, jumps brilliantly into the deep end, and is wildly successful in his first six months. Only, he was so perfectly qualified for the job in the first place that he becomes bored and begins losing motivation and excitement for the work.
Susan gets frustrated with Biff’s impatience and constant inquiries about what’s next and when he can take on more responsibility or get promoted. He just started the job six months ago! This “perfect hire” just became a management nightmare – one who may not stick around for long or continue to be a high performer if this job doesn’t get more interesting quickly. Worse yet, if Susan gives him more responsibility (essentially work at the next level) and doesn’t promote him accordingly, it will lead to even more frustration.
I’ve seen this scenario play out one too many times, regardless of the level of the hire. The mistake that many hiring managers make is that they favor hiring the most qualified candidate in order to avoid having to train and mentor them. They are so busy already…in meetings all day, juggling everything on their plate, and trying to manage upward, that they just want someone who is self-managing and can churn out high quality work. Who can blame them? Yet it creates more long-term frustration and effort than the short-term payoff is worth.
The perfect fit...or is it? (From Shel Silverstein's The Missing Piece Meets the Big O)
Versus... rolling along together. Ah, the perfect combination!
Hiring managers, consider a new strategy:
- Hire someone who is only 70% qualified. Seek out high potential individuals who can grow and thrive in the role by identifying the difference between what they can learn (skills) versus innate talents that can be leveraged for maximum impact. Dig below the surface of the “facts” and find out what really makes them tick. Not only that but take a look at your current team and what gaps currently exist. Look for someone who can fill those gaps, not someone who’s an awful lot like you.
- Look for potential, not a perfect fit. Distinguish between your “must haves” and “nice to haves”, then communicate this clearly to your recruiter. Encourage them to bring you candidates who have passion, eagerness to take on new challenges, and clear self-awareness. You don’t want someone who will convince you they can do the role. You want the one who can tell you what impact they will make, how they would approach the role, and recognize what gaps they have.
- Trust your instincts. Stop using your head so much to make a hiring decision. Tap into what your intuition is telling you. Does the candidate inspire confidence in you that they can step into a role they haven’t quite done before and rock it? Do they say they are excited about the job but you’re not buying it? Your intuition can be your best guide.
Ok, so job seekers. Let’s talk about your side of this. Of course you want your next career move to be one that fires you up and is full of possibility and growth. So why are you looking for jobs you can already handle brilliantly? Is it possible you’re not confident that someone would hire you for a job that’s a stretch? While that’s a rational fear, don’t let it hold you back from going after jobs that will take your career to the next level.
Job seekers: when looking for your next job…
- Be only 70% qualified for your next job. The 30% you’re not qualified for are responsibilities that would stretch you in ways that excite you and would allow you to tap into your talents (those things that have natural aptitude for). If you read the list of responsibilities and feel excitement and anticipation, then you’re on the right track.
- Boldly state where you plan to take your career next. Once you’re clear on what you want, clearly indicate what you want to be hired for in the Summary section at the top of your resume and LinkedIn profile. Write it in the first person. It might start of like this, “You want to hire me to…” or make a strong statement like, “I take broken, inefficient processes and turn them into scalable, innovative, and elegant solutions that are easy to implement.” Whatever your statement, it should make you feel a little nervous to be so bold, yet you know you can back it up. Dare to stand out and create a memorable, confident impression. Trust me, most people don’t do this…and their resumes are boring and forgettable.
- Emphasize your talents as much as your skills. Take an inventory on your natural gifts (the StrengthsFinder 2.0 assessment is a great place to start) and identify ways in which you can leverage them regularly in your next job. On your resume and LinkedIn profile, highlight these talents over and over again and only include skills you truly want to use again. Remove any skills or experiences that you didn’t enjoy, weren’t particularly good at, or wouldn’t want to ever do again. Ever wonder why you get contacted for jobs you really don’t want? Take a look at what you’re selling on your LinkedIn profile and make the appropriate modifications to attract what you do want. During the interviews, find ways to weave your talents into your responses in order to overcome the concern that you don’t have enough experience or the ideal background. Take every opportunity to demonstrate how your talents will be a huge asset, ones that will have you flourishing in the role after a little ramp up time. It’s your responsibility to help them see that you’re worth the gamble.
These tips are very simple and probably quite obvious, yet most people aren’t doing it. It’s a mindset shift. It’s demanding that we all up our game and take calculated risks in our hiring choices and the jobs that we seek to obtain. I want to encourage you to step out of your comfort zone and take chances. Believe in your own potential and that of others.
Imagine how much more engagement, fulfillment, and aliveness would be present in the workplace if both hiring managers and job seekers took this approach. It would be a brave new world. Have the guts to try. I dare you.