Thursday, May 10, 2012

Should You Hire a Marketing “Misfit”?

Here is the dilemma in our job-hunting economy.  Companies search to fill their employee needs with people who fit tightly defined job requisitions  -– in other words, duplicate copies of a job description plus an emphasis on all the soft skills the last guy didn’t have.  Fair enough.  Corporate HR computers go off to work word searching online, crawling resumes and on-line profiles.  See any issue here?  What will that output look like?  

After using the latest search technology, the result is…  out of the thousands of resumes reviewed, we cannot find the matching candidate. Hiring managers are left over-whelmed and complain that jobs must be left unfilled because there are NO candidates.   No one?  Really?

In days of old (pre-recession) we looked for people that were motivated, experienced and had transferable skills.  We knew our company and our industry would bring out something special in them if they had the right “fit” and could learn.  It wasn’t wishful thinking; it really worked. 

Is this only the grumblings of a few lazy or unlucky un/under employed?  Whether high tech outsourcing overseas (because there are just NO engineers here in the US with the latest xyz programming skill), or traditional manufacturers looking for Finance, marketing, manufacturing employees, jobs are left vacant.   Just like a team of winners that is losing because they fight among themselves, we are an economy ready to grow and instead of facing the real enemy, we face each other and mumble soft, dismissive qualifiers – “don’t hire the college graduates – they are unskilled and just don’t know how to work, I’ll have to teach them everything”, “that woman is too old; see, you can tell right away by her college graduation date”, “you’ve been out of work how long?” “how many jobs in 10 years?”, “It’s our education system to blame”.  All these leading to –“there are JUST NO good employees and I just cant fill that job”

Businesses and marketing should be looking for future leaders. Leadership requires creative thinking, vision and the ability to inspire others. This ability comes from processing new information, or at least information in new ways. The ability to integrate takes a broad sense of perspective, from within as well as outside of an industry. The ability to integrate history, economics, art, politics, etc. with industry is vital to build leadership.

The best candidate for a position is likely not in that position.  The best candidate won’t have a “search engine optimized” resume.  When you think about it, what results do you really think you will get from this process of trying to match a punishingly finite and exhaustive job requisition profile.  To take off on the Groucho Marx saying “I wouldn’t work for a company that would hire someone like like me”.

This recession has put a strange master in charge of hiring in the large corporation – the “don’t make a mistake or you will lose your job” master that crushes our ability to think on our own.  Large companies suffer as they reject the “misfits” (for lack of better word); the motivated craftsman who didn’t go to college, the flexible temporary worker, the recent college grad, the 50+ aged downsized execs.  In other words, the non-search–engine-optimized candidate.  These integrated-types, ready to learn and grow, will have no choice but to spread their wings and go to work for something that is not so rigid and risk averse or someone with the confidence to develop talent.    They might just be the bright light for our economy.

Are you up to hiring a marketing (or any function) misfit?

1 comment:

Jim said...

Thought provoking post Bob. I thought about hiring practices the other day when I heard the announcement re: Arammark's leadership choice. Good choice? Maybe given the individual was pushed out the door at Pepsi and will have the experience to take Aramark public at 53. Or maybe Aramark could have shaken things up and gone outside the industry to maybe a leader from another service business that would bring in some fresh new ideas. Further reminded me of a recent David Brooks piece: