I love soccer, playing poker, reading books of all types and creative writing. I also have a new hobby I am pretty excited about: agate hunting. I’ve discovered the joy of the outdoors and the excitement of each new find. My kids and I appreciate spending quality time while we “hunt” agates together and I have found the relaxing pace of this particular activity to be a useful counterbalance to the fast-paced world of executive search, where I make my living. To that end, I cannot help but notice some common themes between my work and my new passion. Let me bullet point a few of them:
• Get outside. Explore new paths. When recruiting candidates, challenge yourself to think broadly about where prospective candidates may reside for your role(s). They may not be in the places and roles that first come to mind.
• Do the legwork. Finding agates requires many hours and many miles of hunting. Great finds take time, energy and effort. Do the hard work required to source the talent you seek. Simply posting a job on your website and waiting for a number of great candidates to appear isn’t likely.
• Pause. Scan. Probe. These are the basic actions of a successful agate hunter out on a beach, gravel road or in a gravel pit. Have you done the same before you start recruiting? Before you rush to post a position, pause. Can you truly describe and quantify what a successful candidate will do in the role? Have you taken the time to assess what it could become rather than simply trying to repeat what was?
• Dirt, grime, and dust hide many wonderful agates. Are you structuring your entire recruiting process to help ensure a truly wide net is cast for the position(s)? Are you asking behavioral questions that get beyond the surface to the deeper experiences of the candidate?
• New construction, recent heavy rains or flooding = access to prospective new finds. Leadership changes and restructuring creates opportunities to excavate talent from a position they were previously cemented to. Be aware of organizations in your region or industry that may be going through major layoffs, downsizings, or office relocations. There may be opportunities to find talent there.
• Tread lightly, as great finds can often be found right under your feet. Or nose. Don’t fall prey to the “we need a superstar/national candidate/big name” mentality without thoroughly assessing and vetting your internal and local talent.
• Clusters – where one agate can be found, so can many more. If you’ve had great success recruiting candidates from one particular company/organization/agency, make evangelists out of them in your future and ongoing recruiting efforts. Chances are good there are some more gems left to discover.
• Agates often hide in plain sight. Often, the most successful candidates will not have a Fortune 500 type company or top-tier school degree as part of their background. Don’t be drawn off-course by credentials that are impressive, but not necessarily meaningful or pertinent.
• Enjoy the hunt. What are you doing to ensure that each and every recruiting process or engagement delivers a positive, even fun, experience for every candidate, the hiring manager(s) or search committee(s)? Remember, for every one successful candidate, there are many more people taking away an impression of you – and your organization.
• Ask fellow hunters for counsel. Always ask for advice from others who are attempting to recruit within your company/organization. What’s working for them? What’s not?
• Share your finds. The process doesn’t end once the candidate accepts the offer. What’s your plan to share news of their hiring within your organization? Your industry? Your community? The public? With other candidates who were not selected?
• Agates are tough, having endured lots of weathering. Great candidates always demonstrate resiliency in their career path. They overcome obstacles. They deal with adversity. They see a broad locus of control within their life and within their career.
• Revel in the diversity. You can find an incredibly diverse array of agates. How are you diversifying your candidate pool to ensure you’re truly selecting from the best possible group of potential fits for your culture, your team and the role?
I’d love to hear your agate-hunting stories or insights you’ve gleaned from your own hobbies and interests relative to your professional endeavors in a comment below. Onwards and upwards!