When the Talent Pool is too Shallow to Swim…

He ain’t all that…

You can’t fix stupid…

A part of my practice (does it scare anyone but me that what I do is called practice??) today occasionally involves conducting searches and evaluating potential key talent for client companies. And I meant what I said above, “You can’t fix stupid.”

If a candidate lacks some required skills, can you hire them anyway? Sure, it’s your company. I would, however, advise you to ensure that the following 3 conditions exist:

1. The candidate really is who she says she is. This is important, obviously.

They applied to a position they are unqualified for, and are trying to convince you they can do it. Be careful they don’t get “too” convincing, and get a little loose with the truth regarding their qualifications and past performance. Stranger things have happened…

This bullshit about not being able to check references is just that– bullshit. And check ’em thoroughly for this sort of candidate.

2. Speaking of performance, theirs must be primo.

You are already taking a chance on qualifications; don’t compound that effort by stretching on ability as well. Only crème de la crème in their known responsibilities should be considered for stretch roles.

Mediocre applicants… well, wish ’em the best in their job search.

3. Finally, and never, ever, forget this.. you can’t fix stupid.

Make sure the candidate is smart enough to learn new skills, particularly the challenging kind you’ve been unable to find. Look for indicators that they’ve learned on the fly. And for Pete’s sake, gauge their general desire to work when interviewing and investigating their background.

It’s hard enough to develop new skills with a new employee; you don’t want to be further hamstrung with a known slug or somebody else’s reject.

The war for top talent is as active as ever; as it becomes more and more difficult to discover that “perfect” candidate, we’ll be making adjustments and trade-offs such as this on a regular basis. Better to know what we’re getting ourselves into, and how to mitigate the potential downsides, than to be blindsided down the road.

But that’s just me…


Kevin Berchelmann

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