“That Won’t Work Here” and Other Recruitment Myths

Over the past 10 years, I have helped roll out Recruitment Functions across to new locations/countries/business groups across the Asia Pacific region. One of the phrases that I have heard from both customers and even Recruiters when we want to look at a new way of candidate sourcing is “That won’t work here”. I have also heard “That won’t work here’s”  infamous sidekick “That’s not the way we do it” used as well.

One of my favorite writers Seth Godin published a Blog Post titled “Because it Has Always Been This Way” that I think explains some people’s resistance to change.


I love all the different locations and people that I support in my role(s) here. There is always a local custom or way of work that I need to  respect and pay heed to when I am working with others in different locations. One thing though that rings true across the globe no matter where you are is that a solid Recruitment Plan and a good Recruitment approach is a universal trait that applies everywhere. It can be easy to say why running a direct sourcing strategy or why a social media campaign won’t work.  It can be easier for people to stay in their comfort zone and use tried and tested methods even if those approaches hurt them in the long run. When you say ‘that won’t work here’ or ‘that’s not the way we do it’ without giving ideas proper consideration you are not allowing yourself to ask the question “What if”?

What if I could find all the candidates I needed with a Recruiter working from  a remote location, what if I could source all my competitor’s best talent, what if I could hire xx number of people in xx amount of time. When you stop limiting yourself to thinking only of the ways things are done and think about the end result you can then really start to make things happen. Once you have an end goal in mind you can work backward from that goal and figure out all the things that need to happen to make that goal achievable.

I think one of the key components of a Recruiters role is to take our customers hand and help them keep improving their recruitment capability. Customers have a million things to do, recruitment is only one of them. Recruiters need to stop taking ‘job orders’ and work as business partners to help educate their customers on what the best Recruitment practices are and give them options on how they can be implemented into a business. As a Recruiter you need to be the expert bringing new sourcing approaches to the table to discuss, if you are not doing this are you giving your customer the best level of service they deserve?

What is the worst that can happen, you try something that does not work out – at least you know if it works or not instead of dismissing ideas without trying. The upside is too big to ignore.

There is always a reason not to do something, but those Recruiters who can make the impossible possible are the ones that really shine!

Do You Really Need to Hire a Rock Star or Do You Just Think You Do

I have worked with Hiring Managers at all levels and it is human nature to want to find the ‘best’ candidate when you are hiring – but Hiring Managers next time you are hiring for your team, quantify what the ‘best candidate’ means for your role. Ask yourself do you really want to hire a bona fide Rock Star or do you potentially really only need an X-Factor (or substitute The Voice, American Idol, or other) contestant for your role.

Many Hiring Managers when they are hiring for their team will loosely throw around the term ‘Rock Star’ and follow it up with comments like ‘I want the best in the business, I need a game-changer, I need someone who can take us in a new direction, etc……

There are 2 main things that I question when I hear someone say these statements. The first is, when I hear a Hiring Manager say statements like this, I think wait a second all I am hearing is what the Hiring Manager wants or needs. A good Recruiter will challenge the Hiring Manager and work out what is the value proposition for the candidate? It is great to hear what a Hiring Manager wants but any work relationship is a two way street. While a Manager may address what his/her needs are when they work with their Recruiter, what would this potential role give to this all star candidate that they want to hire. If your Recruiter does not ask you this or qualify this with you, I recommend looking at the service you are getting from your Recruiter.

The second thing that causes alarm bells for me is really a follow on from the first statement and that is : is the Hiring Manager trying to put a rock star candidate into a regular role or a regular company. If you are hiring and you look at your role on offer and your company – does your role or company really necessitate a rock star candidate?

rockstarA few examples of this could be you want a person to change the ‘game’ (what ever that means to you), but you look at their productivity based on how many hours they sit at a desk not by results achieved. Or for example you want the best sales person there is in your industry, but your commission structure is not competitive or your company’s management style is outdated, tired and unproductive.

In these examples why would a ‘rock star’ want to take on one of these roles? What is the value proposition or attraction for them to consider this role. If they are the best in the market, odds are that they are already in a good role and do not need to go anywhere. So what is it that you offer that would make that person you want to stand up and take notice.

Rock stars need to be able to make success happen – Eddie Van Halen didn’t create his great licks and solos following a script. If you want to hire someone who will take direction as you need and be a corporate clone of what you want, you probably want to hire an X-factor candidate that will do as they are told and follow the script to create their 15 minutes of fame. If you really want to hire the best candidates in your market make sure that you have the business need that necessitates you finding and hiring that person otherwise you will end up putting a high achieving individual into a regular role which may create a situation where you have hired the wrong person for the role you needed to hire for.

The flow on effect of hiring the wrong person has multiple implications. Not only will the relationship with your new star hire likely sour, but you will have invested a lot of time and energy to get this person on board only to have to go through this exercise again. Not every role in every company requires a rock star – before you start sourcing candidates for your next requirement, take the time to really understand what you need out of the role. It is more important to find the person who is the right fit for the role you have then necesarily just looking at the brightest student, the best sales person by $$$ booking, etc…..

Corporate Leaders…..For Every Best There Is a Worst

I have been in the corporate world as a Recruiter for over 15 years. During that time I have had the opportunity to work with a range of Business Managers and Leaders either as a direct report, an indirect report, as a consultant or in some other way, shape or form. Over that time I have had the opportunity to work with and observe Business Managers that I have really respected and learnt a lot from. Some managers have the right balance of demeanor and business capability that always seems to lift those around them. This type of Manager that I have seen is very motivated and driven to succeed but they drive success through their own actions and work well with others to get others to achieve the best they can.

They do not drive the success of the organisation at the expense of individuals. What I mean is that these Managers make time for each member of an organisation as a person and do not necessarily see others as a dollar sign or means to an end. They give the same amount of attention whether they are talking to a fresh graduate or a high level executive.  I think you would see a Manager like this trying to lift others up when they have fallen down and help people in the way they do their work. When you work with Managers like this they tend to have a calming effect on a team and they help people take a deep breath and refocus when the pressure is on to get through things whether it is quarterly results, difficult customers or incoming sales pipeline. It is easy for employees follow to these Leaders as people want to help make things work in this situation. It is easy to want to work with people who share the same values as you do.

Just as I have seen some great managers as mentioned above, I have also seen the flip side of the coin and seen some managers at their worst whether that is by trait or circumstances. Unfortunately there are some managers that rely on the old top down management approach that worked many years ago. I am certain we have seen or heard of managers with these traits. These are the folks who believe the louder they yell the better the results will be from others. It is like one of my kids when they have a temper tantrum and stamp their feet thinking this will create change. Whether this is a Manager you work directly with or a Manager in your organisation, it is hard to get behind this type of Leader. If employees provide results it is often as a result of fear which is not a sustainable long term way to manage your work force. With a rapidly changing workforce employees in today’s world not only want to work for great companies but they want to work with others (or to take a quote a word from Seth Godin – people want to be in tribes) who share their same beliefs and ideals. There is nothing wrong with being competitive in business it is what pushes us to develop ourselves out of our comfort zone but great leaders are able to demonstrate the same traits that they want to see no matter what level of person they are working with in an organisation.

Everybody makes mistakes or has moments where they do not act at their best that is part of being human. Moving forward managers and leaders need to understand that they are leading tribes who follow people based on their values. Leaders may find their tribe less responsive to them if they try to lead through fear rather than if they understand that everyone is dependent on each other to be truly successful.