To me, building a team is a lot like curating a wardrobe. Talent acquisition is an art that requires practicality, sensibility and creativity, the same skills that make or break your own style. Here are the steps in building a dream team using good fashion sense.
- Know what you need versus what you want
When shopping for clothes, people tend to get what they want, not what they need. For example, you shouldn’t have bought that shirt just because it was on sales. You should’ve got a pair of comfy, everyday flats instead of the stilettos that will end up sitting in the closet because they hurt your feet. A pair of hiking shoes are more practical for your camping trip instead of feeding your Air Jordan collection.
This is one of the most common pitfalls that hiring managers struggle with- they become a kid in the candy store, excited by the variety and possibilities and forget what they were looking for in the first place. Always start with practicality, stop listing what you want as the position qualifications. Look for candidates who can satisfy your needs (must-haves), not your wants (nice-to-haves/pluses).
- Try them on
It is much harder to terminate a bad hire than returning a pair of jeans that don’t fit. You wouldn’t bend your toes so you can fit the shoes, right? Be sensible without being blinded by your emotions or external pressures when it comes to hiring. Just move on if you’re in doubt about a candidate. To avoid hiring the wrong person, ask for candidates’ portfolio and work samples, or give them a small assignment. Be open to trying contract to hire to minimize your risk when a reliable skill assessment is not available.
- Work with what you can get
When it comes to specialized couture, your have few options due to availability and budget. For instance, it’s not easy to find a wedding gown that fits like a glove without alteration. Many new dress shoes require time to break them in. With limited design collections, you can’t possibly buy as many as you want when competing with other shoppers. And sometimes it makes more sense to rent a tuxedo than buying one because you won’t wear it again.
This is another common roadblock in recruiting because the hiring managers aren’t aware of the supply and demand in the market and who they can afford within their budget. When you compete to hire the same type of candidates with similar background like everyone else, there’s not enough talent to go around.
There’s an easy way to broaden your candidate pool by considering candidates who don’t typically fit the profile. Also, remove arbitrary qualifiers that won’t predict performance and potentials. For example, many hiring managers get hung up on the experience or degree requirement when many high performers or high potentials in the organization don’t even meet the requirement. Think creatively and consider candidates outside of the target population.
- Buy for the fit, not for the brand
Right. Don’t we all want to fill our closets with designer brands. However, it is not wise to fill your wardrobe with luxury items because you may not get enough use out of them to justify your investment. You want a piece that will compliment your style, not simply speak class with a hefty price tag. Sometime a thrift store find may fit you better.
We all want the candidates with the perfect resume- the exact background, a reputable degree from an ivy league school, and consulting experience with fortune 500 companies. Many hiring managers have a distorted definition of A-player-to-bes and lose sight of what really drives great performance and results. Attitudes, motivations and goal alignment have a higher correlation to success in the position than a candidate’s skills and past experience.
- Create your own style
Fashion is one of the most fast-paced industries- there’s something new every season. Talent acquisition changes as fast as the market demands, too. “Do my candidates have the hottest skills in the market right now?” “Has the candidate used the latest ERP software that we’re planning to implement?” Hiring managers sometimes get fixated on the past (a candidate’s experience) and the present (a candidate’s skills set) and ignore what a candidate could offer in the future (a candidate’s perspective potential and performance).
True fashionistas know not to chase the trend blindly. You know who is best for your team. Use the market intel to guide you, not blindside you. Many times the recruiting roadblocks are artificial and can be easily removed if we focus on the essentials, not what is trending.
“Fashions fade, style is eternal.” —Yves Saint Laurent
- Shop around
Smart shoppers never buy everything from one store so they won’t lose out not only on the bargains but also unique finds. You can’t establish your own style if you settle for what is convenient. Step out of your comfort zone and try something new. You may find your new favorite pair of jeans at a garage sales. That denim blazer may not be something you would consider wearing, but you don’t know how good you’ll look until you put it on.
Same goes for recruiting. It is a slipping slope when you hire from a specific population repeatedly with the same screening methods. It may be easy to hire from your in-group but easy isn’t always the best. Innovations don’t happen when all of the employees think alike. Like any business function, you should challenge the status quo in recruiting and hiring practice. Consider populations with diverse backgrounds who might not conform to your norms – give them the benefit of the doubt and be open to the possibilities of tapping into a new vein of resources.