I spent Saturday afternoon in a bookstore chatting with George Anders. He was finishing up this years promotional tour for his book, The Rare Find. (You might recall an earlier review of the Rare Find in these pages).
The peak of holiday shopping time, 4pm on a Saturday afternoon, brought a small crowd. As a result, the conversation was a remarkable interchange between George, a startup mechanic, and me.
Anders is a reporter with a reporter’s bent. His work took him into a variety of industries around the United States as he tried to understand the ways that people find excellent work. It was great to get a chance to hear him push around the concepts in the book.
The Rare Find is both an exposition on the best recruiting methods and, as a result, a critique of contemporary Recruiting.
George rightly notes that hiring is one place where you can easily see the organization’s risk tolerance. The more averse to risk, the more that hiring looks like an attempt to align job requirements and candidate credentials. This is, in his words, great for buying lawn mowers, but not so great for hiring people.
Organizations that can tolerate more risk in hiring decisions reap the rewards of acquiring people who can go far beyond the immediate opportunity.
He is quick to acknowledge the places in which matching makes sense. “You don’t want to hire for creativity and entrepreneurial bent when you’re picking commercial pilots. You really want them to land the plane one way.”
Anders advocates and reports on hiring methods that focus on resilience, self-reliance, creativity, and efficiency. He urges an approach that identifies “leaders with the skills and resolve to succeed rather than getting sidetracked by the short-lived allure of glittering resumes and charming personalities.” He suggests that recruiting take more account of what could go right.
Without overtly saying it, Anders suggests that the culprits are recruiters and the established methods of recruiting. He notes that the best hirers are people who harness their experience in the job that they are recruiting for. The typical corporate recruiter is a technician who pushes the internal process. Great hires come from having dirt under the fingernails in the profession under consideration.
As next couple of weeks bring a relaxed schedule, take some time to read The Rare Find. Get copies for your hiring managers. It will be the best investment of time you made in 2011.