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Reactionary Hiring vs. Opportunistic Hiring

SelectOne
Fri, Nov 13, 2015

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Companies are constrained by cash flow, internal pay equity, headcount restrictions, rigid org charts, politics, and a myriad of other impediments.  All of these things make it impractical to hire unless there is a specific need, and even then, the focus must remain on finding the exact skill set and experience level, right?  Though these are very valid restraints that every company deals with, in our company we’ve found hiring to be much more successful when we focus on doing so opportunistically.

So what does this mean?

Hire for where you’re headed, not where you’ve been.

We turned over a key non-production role earlier in 2015, and at the time, scoping the role and identifying the right profile became a challenge.  Before we decided simply to replace the individual with a similar person and skill-set, we took a little time to gain an understanding of the true functions this role had covered and what additional responsibilities and knowledge we would want the future person in this role to possess. Understanding the direction we were headed, as a company was important as well.  Ultimately, we were able to add a person who was able to grow with our company and develop the role far beyond what it was.

Hire for cultural fit and potential, not just experience and level

Many clients we’ve spoken with emphasize hiring for cultural fit, as do we.  But at the same time, many roles require a specific technical aptitude and level of experience.  Far too often, it’s improbable to find the best cultural fit coupled with a resume aligning bullet by bullet with the job description.  Keep in mind, people are dynamic and we all learn and develop skills over time. I’d rather hire a sharp, driven, highly motivated person with long term potential who fits our culture, but perhaps lacks the exact prior experience we were looking for.

Build your virtual bench

Every time one of our team members meets an outstanding person who appears to be culturally aligned with our company, they bring it to the group.  Even if we don’t have an immediate or obvious role for the person, typically someone from our management team will take the time to meet with the person.  We do this to build a pipeline of the very best people in our market with exceptional communication skills and shared values.  This has led to some of our very best hires who’ve impacted the growth of our company more than we could’ve ever anticipated.  

All companies are dynamic, to varying degrees.  High-growth startups are forced to hire for the future.  Companies growing through acquisition experience substantial change in short periods of time.  Even more mature companies with steady operations and workforces are competing in a volatile and rapidly changing, globalizing macroeconomy. Waiting until there is an acute hiring need can lead to forced decisions. Hiring for the future, based off cultural fit and potential, will help drive your ability to assemble a world-class team.

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