How to change the odds in recruiting well with executive search

We’re all susceptible to outdated beliefs. Like how being famous, rich and powerful must also mean you’re exhausted, have no time for your family and are quite likely just an unpleasant person to be around. But like all myths, maybe it was true for someone, but it’s rarely true for everyone. Take Roger Federer. While reading the latest article in the NY Times about him, one thing that struck us was how everyone was surprised at what a kind person he is. How he’s family oriented, down-to-earth, and even well rested. And from a business angle, we saw how his personal and professional brand was one that every product on the planet was willing to invest in.

Which got us thinking. What myths do we all fall back on when it comes to hiring? How do we figure out who is worth the risk to invest in for our team’s performance and company brand?

What doesn’t show up on a resume (but should)

Recently, we were contacted to provide a reference for a former employee. It was for a role that he’d never done before: running a non-profit organization. Our initial reaction was: whatever the role is, hire him. But the person on the other end of the conversation was concerned that this person didn’t have the exact experience the organization was looking for. Which is a story we’ve heard many times. From our perspective, our former team member has the key skills almost any organization needs: he thinks systemically, he makes knowledge-based, smart decisions under pressure and he can use his design thinking skills to solve problems. All of those skills apply to almost every job, even if he’s never had the job before. (Also he’s incredibly kind and funny, which is highly valued at Forshay, but also not on a resume).

Which reminds us of the science we shared recently that experience isn’t everything. What isn’t highlighted strongly enough on a person’s resume is their performance, plus, a new one we’ll add which is ‘teamwork brand’So instead of looking at job titles someone held, look for the person’s performance in that role, plus how they did it. And consider this for yourself:  how do people you work with feel about working with you, and what is your performance that you’ll speak to rather than your positions held?

The prevailing myth we’d like to bust is this idea that an organization needs a person who has done this exact role, with these exact tasks at a carbon copy version of a _______ [fill in the blank: start-up, non-profit, consumer goods company, etc.]. But we’re here to tell you friends: that is so 1900s (okay maybe even 2010 thinking).

Take a chance on people (calculated chances, where the odds move in your favor)

That’s great, you may be saying right now. But how? Well, we’ve got a list.

  1. DON’T JUST THINK BIG. SOURCE WIDE.
    Create your list of key skills and attributes you want. Now, cut it down to 3-5 max. (Likely, three is enough.) What truly matters? Be brave and bold enough to let some of your criteria go. Pro tip: remember that the person who has done that exact job somewhere else may be completely over it, and doesn’t want to do it again. 
  2. STORIES THAT REVEAL
    What kind of resources (size of team, budget, etc.) was used to produce what clear outcomes? What is a story of the hardest goal they had to hit, and how did they do it? Conversely, what was their easiest performance goal that they blew past with horns trumpeting? Yes, we care about grit, but we also want to know which areas this person flows into their mojo.
  3. WHAT KIND OF HUMAN ARE YOU HIRING?
    When things get messy (real life), how does this person respond? There is only one Federer, but what he represents for a brand can be parlayed into how a person might add, or subtract, to your team’s brand, and your company’s performance. Thinking both short-term (we need to hire), with the long term (a person who will move us two steps forward, not a dance step of forward/backward that includes exhausting drama), is playing the long game. How will this person respond to new challenges, new situations and even keep pushing when things are going well? How quickly do they flex, pivot and bend to overcome obstacles, innovate and fix that thing that needs fixing? Is this person self-aware with the right size ego (usually low is preferred!)? Direct? Try asking questions that lead you to discovering how adaptable, kind, and just what kind of human they are to understand how they got their results in past jobs.

P.S. Our team member got the job! And that non-profit is sooooooo lucky to have him.

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