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Don´t Go Chasing Unicorns

“Finding good help is hard these days.”

It seems that is what people always say, and they are right! But you know what? It is a lot easier than finding perfect help. Let me explain.
In their search for talent, companies often anticipate hiring the candidate with excellent skills (hard and soft), training plus lots of relevant work experience under their belt, with a flawless character and a generally pleasant personality…who is excited to come to work for them at about 15% below market.
Unfortunately, this myopic focus on the ideal candidate often puts companies needing help at a disadvantage. It is one of the main reasons why so many vacancies remain open for months.
But who can blame you for trying to hold out for that perfect person? When you pick the wrong fit, the cost is very high (in both time and dollars), and it’s just money down the drain.
So, many employers keep looking. And looking. And looking. In the process, HR throws more resources at the search, hiring managers spend hours in reviewing resumes and interviewing, and current employees work crazy hours.  Stress rises and morale declines as you scramble to increase the chances of finding the ideal candidate.
But that does not change one sobering fact: Mr. or Mrs. Perfect almost never exists. Many recruiting efforts run dry because hiring managers let perfect be the enemy of good.
That is especially true – of course – in the world of unmanned and robotics where there simply is more work than qualified candidates.

The Swiss Army Knife Syndrome
Here´s how Forbes and LinkedIn contributor Liz Ryan describes the conundrum:
Too many HR screeners and hiring managers emphasize very specific kinds of experience in their hiring decisions. They screen resumes out of the pack for the stupidest reasons — because someone didn’t have a job with “Marketing” in its title for quite long enough, or because they were missing one keyword in their resume.
While this may sound a little harsh, the main point is still well taken: When you inflexibly stick to your idea of finding the ideal candidate, you will almost always fail. No matter how big your budget. That´s because you´re chasing unicorns.
If this is all hitting a little too close to home, it may be time to replace the search for the swiss army knife-candidate with a smarter strategy.
Humor me and imagine a fictitious future where openings will have to be filled in less than 45 days. If you do not hire anyone during this time, you will lose this position forever.  What would that mean for your deadlines/customer commitments?  Technical solutions?  Business growth?  Ability to compete?
If you follow the 45-day rule, what do you think would change?
The Swiss Army Knife Syndrome (let’s call it SAKS; and yes, I coined this beauty of an acronym) would disappear.
Absent living in our fictitious future and strict 45-days policy, consider these steps to increase your chances of making your next GOOD hire:


  • Identify what you really need. Take a close look at the solution you provide to your customers and what skills are indispensable for the position you have to fill.
  • Focus on training. You´ve heard the advice: hire for character, train for skill.
  • Bring back the hunt. The term headhunter has lost allure for several good reasons. But it reminds us that many recruiters have lost the hunting spirit. They are budget managers, project managers or coordinators. They publish advertisements on job boards or in social networks. Then they wait for the CVs to come in. This wait-and-see approach just won´t cut it in our tight labor market. Again, if you only had 45 days to find a candidate, you would want to make sure you give it all you got.
  • Keep your people happy: while you´re at it, don´t forget about turnover. Be proactive about the things you can do to keep employees engaged and eliminate the need to hire replacement.Takeaway

We all live in an imperfect world. And the young, disruptive, invigorating world of unmanned may be a little less perfect still. In our industry, we often have to fill positions for which we cannot pull a job description out of the drawer because nobody has written one yet.
Especially in such cases waiting for “great” may destroy “good”. Don´t let that happen.
And keep in mind, I spend my days hunting for heads in this fabulous industry…and I’ve even snagged a few unicorns along the way.  Please email me, and we can schedule a free consultation on how to find you good help!