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Thursday, February 03, 2005


Let's Change The Way We Hire Talent, Okay?

There must be something in the air today because I'm truly juiced, revived from a few weeks of fear-induced mental/emotional paralysis. Why? What's been going on, you might ask...

[full disclosure]In August 2004, I left my stable, but increasingly unfulfilling job with a non-profit in order to check out the solopreneur world. I was passionate about coaching, particularly when it came to helping others find their voice as a leader and their path as a professional. I wanted to know if I could support myself and my family while going for this "dream work." While so much good came from taking this leap of faith, I've also come to understand that this was not the time to go out on my own. Well, at least completely on my own - my solo work can exist as part-time and continue to grow. So, I've thrust myself back into the world of job hunting, the very world I had been coaching others to navigate. Oh, the irony. Perhaps now that I have made this disclosure (which in itself is kind of a risk), I'll blog a bit more on the process. I do have to admit my hunting successes and failures over the past couple of months have made me a better coach.[/full disclosure]

So, I'm working through my morning ritual of reading other's blogs and I come across Seth Godin's collection of entries on the job hunting process: Are you looking for a great job?
Part One
Part Two
Part Three

Talk about someone speaking directly to me. As someone trying to make a leap rather than take a sidestep (I want to move from non-profit management to organizational development work), the resume is a sad way to move. Even though I have tried to highlight my transferrable skills, emphasize my unique background, yada yada yada, it usually doesn't fit right into the small box that the hiring powers want. Reminds me... I currently coach a couple of early career professionals who want to do something different and the common lament is the old chicken/egg argument of the workworld: how do you get the experience that is required if no one will bother to let you get that experience in the first place?

I think Seth meanders along only as Seth can, but he does make a couple of interesting points.

Point 1.
The way organizations look for talent is broken. A potential candidate sends in a boring resume that is supposed to attract attention while including drab, lifeless language (read: keywords) that hopefully will make its way to being read by a human being. Once past this stage, you go in for an interview and try to be "coglike in your malleability and desire to fit in." Of course, the only way to get around this process is to actually know someone within the company who can add the necessary humanity to the potential candidate. What it often boils down to is a lot of hard work and even more luck.

Point 2.
We need a way to radically circumvent this old way of hiring. Companies love their job descriptions to the point where they are cast in stone. This happens far more with small- to mid-sized organizations; large corporations can usually find ways to include talented, creative people if they desire. But Seth poses an obvious, yet smart question: "If the single-most-important thing a business can do is hire amazing people, why shouldn't that process be more flexible and be built around the people, not the slots?"

So here's a shameless request: If you or someone you know is looking for a talented, creative individual to add to your talented, creative organization, let me know. I might not exactly fit inside a standard job description, but it's the cool stuff that's lying outside that makes me (and any of us passionate professionals) worth getting to know.

Categories: c.Careers; c.Organizations

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