How to Find the Right Talent for a Challenging Position
It is Like Finding Unicorns
Suddenly one of your best team members decides to take an offer at another company or the developer that has been managing one of your legacy systems decides to retire early. The direct supervisor is freaking out. The program director is now concerned, and knows that the CIO will soon ask about it in the next staff meeting.
Or, perhaps, a hiring manager wants a developer that is more like a Swiss Army knife than a human. They can code in Java, Python and moonlights with PHP. Oh, and by the way, they need to be excellent UX designers and able to give marketing all the data they need…before they know they need it.
You may be laughing by now, because you have probably been in a similar situation. Let’s be honest, were you ever able to find one of those perfect hires?
In our 25-year history, we have seen our share of unicorn quests, and probably only a handful ever became reality. The fact is that, from time to time, we have seen hiring managers set expectations so high that the only outcome is disappointment. As we sit down to develop a staffing plan for our clients, we try to set the right expectations by sharing market data and recent experience. We offer a set of questions to help us understand what they value and how we can help them achieve that goal. This may sound a bit simple, but diving into the why, in a face-to-face or phone conversation, helps redefine your search from a mythical creature to a real opportunity.
(Spoiler Alert: We do ask why a lot. Not because we do not understand what our clients are saying, but because we want to get what they value – because we only want to deliver what will bring you full value).
Here is a sample of the list
- Why do you need to replace (or add) this team member?
- Why do we need someone with this many skills?
- How did you come up with the job description?
- Why does the hiring manager need this position filled so quickly?
- Is it more important to have someone that works well with the team and is open to collaboration vs. someone who has all the skills outlined?
- Are any of the skills outlined something the candidate can learn?
- If we do not fill the position in a timely matter, what will it cost the company?
- If the job can be separated into two, making it faster to fill the positions, would it make sense to bring on an additional employee or contractor?
An exercise like this can sometimes be challenging, but the rewards can be very high. The intention behind these questions is to fully comprehend the situation and share more details, and never to challenge the authority of the decision maker. The answers will help you discover key points that you may have overlooked and come up with the best solution possible.
But remember, unicorns are not real. Great people are.