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Great things come in irregular packages

Employers Professional & Managerial
Great things come in unusually-shaped packages

Over the holidays I had the privilege of catching up with Jon, a candidate in Christchurch I had placed last year with a company in Oamaru. After 15 years of running his own online music business, Jon is now a Marketing Executive with Numat, an outdoor matting manufacturer. Their mats are used in farming and playgrounds. It was very satisfying recruiting Jon because at first glance he didn’t look like a perfect fit for my client. What does music have to do with outdoor matting?

Sometimes the perfect candidate does not tick all the boxes. They don’t have experience in your industry, and they are not like anyone else in your organisation. They may not be what you’re looking for, but they might be perfect. Let me tell you why.

When organisations hire, the first port of call is to draw up a list of requirements. Often an old position description is rolled out, or for a new position, a list of tasks and responsibilities. Culture-wise the brief is often “a good fit” i.e. “people like us”.

Sounds good so far, right? Not necessarily so.

In this uncertain age of disruption, businesses and organisations that are flourishing are those that are growing and constantly adapting to new market dynamics. The old adage, “If you do what you have always done, you will get what you have always got” is simply no longer true today. If you do what you have always done, your market share will be quickly eroded by a clever disrupter. Take Uber or Airbnb for example.

What applies to markets also applies to people. If you are looking for someone who does what your previous employee did, you could be missing an opportunity to take your business/organisation to the next level. Next time you are looking to hire, consider questions such as:

  • How have we changed since we last hired someone for this role?
  • What do our customers really want from us?
  • What is our strategic direction?
  • How are we taking our business/organisation to the next level?
  • Are we open to new ideas from outside?

As a recruiter, I thoroughly enjoy taking a brief, and understanding your recruitment needs. It is also very important that I learn enough about your organisation to know how to spot an unexpected superstar. For me, an unexpected superstar is someone who doesn’t tick all the boxes but instead brings so much more. It could be:

  • Experience in a market you want to target;
  • A proven strategic thinker, great at brainstorming new ideas;
  • Multiple skills that are more than you’re asking for, eg PR and events experience, as well as marketing; or
  • A can do attitude that will knock the socks off your current team.

So back to Jon’s new job in Oamaru: He told me all about the exciting work they are doing developing new products for playgrounds and for the beef industry. He says it’s been amazing getting to know a different industry and applying some time-honoured marketing principles to the family business. It’s awesome to see how a job can change the lives and future, not only for a candidate but a whole family.

Next time you’re frustrated by the labour market not having exactly what you’re looking for, consider whether you’re looking for a square peg when you could take it to the next level with an octagonal one. As my grandmother used to say, “Be careful what you wish for, for you may surely get it.” That has never been truer than in my work as a recruiter.