Over the past 10 years, we have received hundreds of job orders from every imaginable industry and company with all types of hiring managers looking to solve a sudden, frightening problem: A key performer has resigned.
These assignments come to us not unlike that infamous tornado that lifts Dorothy and Toto into Munchkinland – as a sudden destructive force that upends the world as they know it. I have absolutely no idea why this idea of the Wizard of Oz hit me last week other than to say the image of a slight humbug middle-aged man behind the curtain of a fiery all powerful façade popped into my middle-aged head as I listened to my panicked client implore me to get resumes to them ASAP.
Witches, Flying Monkeys and Characters Without Brains, Heart or Courage
Finding talented candidates with exceptional technical skills, a winning personality, high drive, loyalty, smarts, values, cultural alignment, community sensibility, humor and innate leadership ability is a task beyond mere mortal recruiters. Better to ask us to fight off the flying monkeys in bell boy caps or green witches and their winkie guards. Great recruiters can work with definable problems as long as the client is willing to work with them.
The simplest and yet most complex problem recruiters face is the concept of the ideal candidate. Generally they don’t exist or if they do, they are in the form of Matthew McConaughey driving his sleek Lincoln to a cool after-hours poker game. In other words, the ideal candidate is completely off the market or out of reach. A great recruiter is someone who will never promise to do the impossible but seeks to understand the nature of the problem and then works with the client to figure out the solution.
The Wizard Recruiter
The recruiter spends a significant part of their work life understanding the inherent weaknesses and strengths of a wide range of people both strongly competent and occasionally exceptional. They are able to articulate their expertise of people into a well-made placement that serves both the client and candidate. The only way this can happen is for the client to realize the "Yellowbrick Road" to see the Wizard who can produce a perfect candidate does not exist. These candidates are either false, cartoons, or mythical in their own minds.
The best recruiters recommend their clients engage with characters who will inevitably lack some of the necessary qualities, characteristics, industry particulars or substantiation of time (the infamous 3-5; 5-7; 10+ years experience) to be the ever elusive “perfect fit.” They will prove their mettle by being solid players who actually thrive and grow under the right conditions. By bringing along a strong character who only needs the right situation to realize the latent courage, wisdom or passion they had residing within, the wise recruiter can indeed perform some magic for their clients by showing them the deeper qualities of not only their candidates but also of themselves.
Remember: The candidates are not the only scarecrows, tin people or cowardly lions in this world. Everyone plays his or her part.
Behind the Curtain
All of us have lost key people over the years and we will continue to lose them again and again in the future. The twister will hit home sooner or later and no one will really know what’s happening until it’s over. That’s nature. When disaster strikes, it’s important to realize that there are no magic lands with tropical skittle-colored landscapes. The road can lead home if you have the right characters on the journey who want to work hard to overcome their weaknesses. And in the end, as Toto showed, Oz is just a normal guy behind a curtain.