5 min read

5 min read

26 Feb 2013

26 Feb 2013

26 Feb 2013

It’s not a marriage proposal

It’s not a marriage proposal

It’s not a marriage proposal

Dr. Glyn Brokensha

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Dr. Glyn Brokensha

Dr. Glyn Brokensha

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Have you been searching for, “The One”?  You know they’re out there… they must be… the one true applicant who is the perfect match.  The applicant who’s destined to walk off into the sunset, hand-in-hand with your beautiful role to live happily ever after.

STOP!  This is not a marriage proposal we’re working on here!  We’re recruiting for A person, not THE person.  If you’re not then you should be on RSVP or Matchmaker.

Isn’t it curious how the “one true love” idea infiltrates our thinking when we’re looking for a new employee?  The importance of finding someone who is right for the role seems to trigger all those myths about finding the lost half of your soul.  This is the stuff of Plato and Carl Jung and doesn’t belong here.

For those of you who don’t know, I’m a medical doctor who was a practising psychotherapist for many a year.  Understanding this yearning for love and the attraction to what Jung called the “imago” is more than relevant in understanding what often goes on in recruitment that should never, ever be there.

When recruiting, we’re looking for someone who is capable (“can-do”), willing (“will-do”) and a good fit (“fit-to”).  We want someone to fulfil a function, typically within a team.  But the notion that out there somewhere is the perfect person whose skill-set is a mirror image of the skill deficit we’re seeking to match, whose attitudes, values and character complement those skills to perfection and who will be universally and unconditionally loved by all is fatuous, to say the least.

Hmmm…. perhaps BHP should have read this article before they married Marius and Rio before they shacked up with Tom?

At any given moment there will be lots of people who can fill your essential criteria and are the right kind of person who will be good in your job.  There will be many who can be great.   A few will be awesome but the number of people who will be perfect is the square root of none.

This “one true applicant” thinking turns your recruitment process into an Olympics.  And of course you want a gold medallist in your organisation, don’t you!  The best of the best?  Or perhaps not… think Lance Armstrong or Nick D’Arcy.

The great advantage of having some objective data about your applicants (and your talent pool) is that your decision-making can avoid the “best-of-the-best”, “top of the heap” trap and focus instead on the real qualities of the people in front of you.  Most often there will be several appointable people each of whom will do very well.

This is not the time to worry and fret about who you might have missed (did I miss my one true love?) but to focus instead on the great applicants you have, ready and willing to work with you.  Of course you should canvas the market properly but as long as you get great people applying, that’s enough!   Should you eat the fish you caught for supper or fish forever for the one that might have swum past your line?

Of course, objective measurements will occasionally tell you that you do need to keep fishing… to go to market again.  The data may show that the best of the applicant pool is too poor to consider further.  That’s the advantage of such measures.  And, just as you can never step into the same river twice, each time you go to market you are tapping into a new stream of applicants many of whom were not looking for a new job two weeks ago.  So do fish on hopefully, you have good reason!

Most of all, when recruiting, remember that it’s not a marriage proposal you’re offering.  Sure, some would say that it’s harder to terminate an employee than a marriage!  But breaking free of fallacious “one true love” thinking and adopting a more rational and objective approach to the wide range and diversity of potentially great applicants, paradoxically makes hiring truly awesome people even more likely.

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