Looking Beyond The Skills

All this hype around Cleveland Cavalier guard Labron James – will he be a Net, Knick, Cavs, Bulls? Is he the next Michael Jordan? Magic Johnson? Larry Bird? No! Each one of the players mentioned had a major impact for elevating the level of play for their teams and the NBA. However, when you look at the four players mentioned…whose the odd man out? Who hasn’t elevated his A-game come playoff time and who hasn’t won a title. Sorry Cleveland! Labron James. So why and how does this relate to recruiting?

When you look at Michael, Magic, and Larry you need to look at the teams they played on. Each player had other A-level impact players on the team which helped them win a world champion. Who are the other A-level impact players on the Cavs. Sorry again Cleveland (and Shaq)…no one. Corporate teams whether in Sales, Operations, Accounting, or Human Resources need to have a team of supporting cast members that bring their A-game every day. When one or more of those team members leave the organization or transfer to another department, it is up to us as Recruiters to go out and replace that person with the same type of play style in order for the department to stay on top of their game.<p>
We can use Google, ReferYes, LinkedIn and play a game of source till the cows come home but it is up to us as recruiters to educate our hiring managers to go beyond the buzzword bingo and identify A-level talent. Not to switch gears, but one of the best books a recruiter can read is MoneyBall by Michael Lewis. It’s about my other favorite sport-baseball.

In his book, Lewis discusses how the Oakland Athletics used sabermetrics vs. traditional statistics to find the best talent and at an economical price and helped produce one of the hottest teams in baseball during the late 90s and early 00s. Sabermetrics is the objective knowledge around the game of baseball. A good example of this focuses on reasoning saying the number of runs wins the game and not high batting averages. Recruiters and hiring managers tend to take the subjective approach or the batting averages and says this candidate is the best because he has tenure, he is a currently working, and he has all the skills you are looking for. Boom! The candidate is hired at big money and thought to be the A-level talent but turns out the department cannot progress forward. 12 months later –gone!<p>
We tend to think that high dollar talent equals A-level talent when that is definitely not the case. I have talked to that type of talent and find them to be average at best. Why because they want to be the superstar and when they enter the organization will mow down anyone that tries to get in his/her way. Here are some of the objective stats I look for along with the technical skills my hiring manager seeks:

• Level of engagement – candidates who take the time to ensure I understand their world. The best IT types I have recruited have stopped to explain how the technology works together. This is key especially when this person will be asked to engage business leaders and speak in layman’s terms.
• Consistent enthusiasm for each position they have held –hearing the enthusiasm will transfer to positive energy for team dynamics on your hiring manager’s team
• True understanding of their role, the department’s role, and the company’s vision
• Accomplishments centered on team play and not just individual play.
• Passion for the work they do everyday –from the tactical to the strategic tasks
• Money is not the most important factor to be hired..yes, I said that.

I take a two pronged approach in delivering candidates. Not only do I send a write up of the must have skills, but I also schedule a call with my hiring managers to talk about objective points for consideration. Encourage your managers during their face to face interviews to ask questions around those objective points and listen carefully to their responses as well as watch the nonverbal cues to determine if those characteristics are present.

Real world example-After 10 years with AT&T Chris Hoyt (aka The RecruiterGuy) decided to make a move to Pepsico /Frito-Lay. If you have not read Chris’ blog (www.therecruiterguy.com), you will understand how much of a rock star this recruiter is. Jim Schnyder recognized that Pepsico / Frito-Lay someone with Chris’ accomplishments, knowledge, passion, and enthusiasm he has for recruiting. With so much A-Talent on one team, that recruiting team will win the title every year.

SO…looking for the next Labron James or would you want a Shane Battier on your team? Battier was great at basketball growing up.  He went on to help Duke win the National Championship in 2001.  The NBA’s worst team at the time, the Memphis Grizzlies, drafted him number one but the owner was worried about how Battier’s talent would transfer to the NBA.  When drafted, the team had a losing record, but by year three – winning record and playoff bound.  In 2006, he was traded to the Houston Rockets who had a losing record.  Pairing him up with players like Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming…playoff bound.  The interesting thing….they got him cheap.  New owner Daryl Morey, a Wall Street Investor, took over the club.  He based his recruiting style with team leadership similar to what Billy Bean did for the Oakland A’s -overall statistics and going after the players that were undervalued by the teams they were playing on.  Genius.  Though the Rockets never made it to the Finals, Battier made a significant difference for the next two years.  Here is the article: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/15/magazine/15Battier-t.html?pagewanted=8&_r=3&ref=magazine

Back to the recruiting world….Recruit and Source talent who make a difference to the overall team.  When your candidates are rattling off the stats..stop them and ask them…how they made a difference to the team, to the office and/or to the organization, how can they make a difference at your organization and how they will go about it.  Then listen objectively and begin to assess if they are the next Labron James or are they a Shane Battier.

Are there other objective factors you look for? Reply to the blog and share!

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About Superrecruiter

Strategic corporate recruiting leader based out of Dallas, TX finding A level talent faster than a speeding search string and able to build successful partnerships and measure results yielding excellent results! Michael Goldberg leads a corporate recruiting team focusing on Trade Show, Conventions, Audio Visual, Staging, Lighting, Video, Hospitality, Hotel AV, Creative, Experiential Design, Marketing Strategy, Face-to-Face Marketing, and Corporate related positions.
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