While dining this week with the CEO and owner of a nationally recognized SEO firm and the CIO of a large Cleveland institution, the topic turned to business and the current challenges facing both organizations. Not surprisingly, both declared that their single biggest challenge was finding and hiring talent.
Finding and hiring bodies to occupy desks is actually pretty simple. Filling those desk chairs with genuinely talented individuals is extraordinarily difficult.
How Hard Can It Be?
For many job seekers, this dilemma seems unbelievable. With unemployment over 9% and millions of people actively looking for jobs, how tough could it be to find the right employee? Shouldn’t the biggest problem be selecting only one of many qualified candidates?
Regrettably, the answer is No.
While job seekers focus intently on communicating their professional qualifications – their degrees, certifications, and specific technical skills – employers are looking for personal qualities like work ethic, loyalty, commitment, passion, eagerness to learn and devotion to excellence.
What Do We Want?
As the CEO commented, there are two types of people in the world: people who can’t bear to watch the ball hit the ground and people who don’t care if the ball hits the ground. She only wants to hire the former. But they’re hard to identify and harder to hire because they’re in the greatest demand.
The CIO agreed and related that her recent employee selections for a necessary layoff were determined by the employees’ personal attributes not by the lack of any specific talent. Because every manager knows that an employee’s personal qualities are extraordinarily difficult to change, while new skills are relatively easily acquired.
Both lamented the lack of any foolproof method to ensure that a new hire would possess their desired qualities and would continue to demonstrate them while employed. No personnel test has worked, behavioral interview techniques aren’t certain, references don’t necessarily reveal motivation and even a proven record of success doesn’t guarantee future accomplishment.
Finally, the Secret Revealed
So, what’s the secret to finding and hiring talent? As far as we can tell, there isn’t one. But suggestions are welcome.