People are Not Recipes

Last week, while driving to/from parents and funerals (my folks are fine), I had several long talks with my sister, who’s looking for a job. She’s the best salesperson I’ve ever met. She’s great at selling, and stays friendly with her clients over the years. She stopped selling in high tech about 16 years ago (sold Tupperware for a long time), and is now looking again for a job selling in high tech.

She’s having a little trouble moving past the gatekeepers. “You don’t have a Business degree.” True, she has a degree in a particular type of business. “You don’t have recent experience selling products just like ours.” Well, of course not. If she’d been working for a competitor, she would have trouble with a non-compete agreement. “You have too much/too little experience.” Can’t win with that one.

My sister’s run into what I’ve called the laundry list job description, although I’m wondering if a better description is a recipe. She’s good at selling, so she’ll determine a way to move past the gatekeepers :-), but I have to wonder about these hiring managers who have such rigid requirements that only people with precisely those requirements will fit.

It is important to be clear on what your requirements are for a given role, and what you can compromise on and what you can’t. But degrees are not something to be rigid about. And depending on the environment, neither is exact product domain expertise. (You need to expect to teach domain expertise to new hires.)People rarely have linear career growth. Instead, they take opportunities as they arise. It’s more important to see that people learn from their opportunities (and deliver what they are supposed to deliver) than it is to see that they meet some number of years of experience.

So think of what you really want to see in a candidate’s experience — what you want and what you need. And remember that candidates are unique individuals. You might have thought about the job one way, but a great candidate might be stellar in another way. Leave the recipes for baking. You’re looking to hire people. You don’t have to compromise on the candidate, but you may well have to compromise on the candidate’s background. Instead of a recipe, look for experience producing or delivering. Then you’ll know you have a good candidate.

6 Replies to “People are Not Recipes”

  1. I think a recipie isn’t a bad metaphore for a job, but one must consider it not a baking recipie. A baking recipie has man important chemical requirements that need to be in exactly the correct proportions so that the ‘bread rises’. However, a job should be like a stir fry. Sure it’s got chicken and broccoli, but everything else is ‘to taste’.

  2. Job descriptions identify specific companies a long time before the company name gets mentioned. The longer the company is around; the longer the job description gets.
    Overspecified job descriptions originate in a risk management mindset, or in the EEO process.
    You try to keep the bad employee out. But, that becomes a self fulfilling prophesy. When you avoid the negative, you actually attract it, and with all your perceptual filters you make good into bad. That’s the problem with risk managment.
    As far as the EEO issue goes, you have the perfect candidate inhouse and you are going to promote them. But first, you have to post a classified ad, you have to screen, and you have to interview. There is no position. It’s a matter of just be compliant to the regulations.
    Candidates might as well know that the jobs are not real. Either have one made for you, or realize it’s going to be awhile.

  3. Hi, Johanna. How are You? I’m Tim. I’m just wondering if Your sister is still looking for a job. I might have something she’ll be interest in. It’s
    marketing- and/or mortgage business all over of the United States. A lot of people get success in this business. If Your sister would like to find out more about options of this kind of job, and opportunities, and perspectives of this kind of sales business, please let me know on [email protected] . Thank You for Your time and attention.
    Sincerely, Tim.

  4. In Virginia, especially in Glen Allen and Richmond, “recruiters” aren’t really real recruiters…
    I found this out the hard way when I was literally told by one of them that “we are a contractor for Phillip Morris. We work by contract to hire people for them.” — I guess this means, PM doesn’t have to pay insurance, health benefits, taxes, time off, bonuses, overtime, and whatever else they deem unsavory.
    What this means is that a recruiter is only recruiting for that company and maybe two or three others — per company contract — right ? And it probaby means they won’t ANYONE locally…Atleast, this was the case with the provost at ECPI technical college in Richmond, who hails from none other than — California…
    As far as I can see, only people who related to other people, who already work there, can get work in Glen Allen. It’s a very prissy, classy establishment — apparently, those from hickville are not welcome. Interestingly enough, Verizon’s Super Pages training recruiters were out of NEW YORK — both of them !!! The flip side is a plethora of New York and New Jersey license plates (and hence the gangs) in our local area…
    Bottom line — They’re not hiring locals here.

  5. MANY bosses miss the point when it comes to hiring the right person. This is even more evidenced by the fact that many bosses, like the one at the Richmond Airport in Virginia — whom is illiterate (I’m not making this up, he actually takes his paperwork home to have his wife read it for him) simply either can’t do the job themselves or don’t to be bothered with someone they might have a personality problem with.
    More often than not they want the A-Type and even more often they want a woman for the position. I have no problem with a woman on the job, but 100 percent of secretaries out there are women…
    The ironic thing is that many often miss the skills and experience a person has entirely — they’re too busy looking for a personality match. They simply won’t take the time to READ a resume…I’ve found this is true in about 100 percent of my technical college students…
    Personality does matter. If you’re a B-type, you simply won’t get a job in Glen Allen or Richmond Virginia.

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