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  • Writer's pictureMark Olivito

2 Warning Signs in Talent Selection

Updated: Jul 3, 2022

One of the hardest areas in business to consistently get right is “picking winners.” Great talent that makes an impact is a game changer for any business. Of course, picking winners is easier said than done.

I’ve written on some recruiting challenges in the past….

Picking the winners is flat out hard, no matter how sophisticated the process. Many people try different methods to increase their batting average:

  • Personality Profiles

  • “Case Study” Presentations – Give the candidate an assignment, have them present results to a panel

  • Extensive reference checking

  • Skill screening tests (especially for technical areas)

All methods provide insights/data points to increase the odds of success. Unfortunately, I have yet to see a combination of methods that increases the odds over time.

However, I HAVE seen a couple of warning signs that DECREASE the odds of the candidates success:

  • A real hard charging focus on up-front salary negotiation

  • A greater than “average” concern for a particular title, one that looks good on the resume’ or provides a degree of “prestige.”

Let’s take the first one, the hard charge towards maximizing the starting base salary. I get it, I love the hustle, the ambition and the fight for what a candidate perceives to be their fair market “value.” Salary is one of the most sensitive areas of business, it’s a black and white number that tends to be compared, analyzed and too much self worth wrapped up in that one number. It’s one of the ultimate barometers of business. There’s a problem however with the hard charging negotiation for candidates that have been extended an offer/invitation to join a company….

By definition, a job candidate that has been extended an offer has not accomplished one thing. What they have demonstrated is an impressive showing BEFORE the bell rings.

Their pitch on value is all related to potential, or their past track record.

Some level of negotiation could be considered “expected.” However…

Wouldn’t it be refreshing to see a candidate completely confident in their ability to produce great results and say “why don’t we go with YOUR number, than lets sit down in 90 days when you actually see me action?” Do you think that candidate would stand out while simultaneously showing they are willing to let their performance do the talking?

Here’s also a very real thing that happens to the candidate that plays the hard negotiating game: They SIGNIFICANTLY raise the expectation level for immediate performance. For anybody that has run businesses, there is great wisdom in UPOD: Under Promise. Over-deliver. It’s about expectations, setting realistic ones than consistently exceeding them. Reputations grow at a fast rate when UPOD happens. Anything that undermines this should be taken with extreme caution.

Warning Sign #2: Greater Than Normal Concern For Job Title

Titles are also sensitive, especially when a manager tries to REDUCE the title of an employee. When NEW candidates seem very concerned about what their title becomes, and if it’s a bump from their previous one (and negotiate accordingly), WARNING SIGN!

Titles don’t grant someone a higher degree of results potential, or respect from their peers.

Titles do make great cocktail party conversation. They look great on business cards. But for an employer looking to build a team, candidates that get consumed with titles are often shaky bets in the context of team.

Like all warning signs, take note, trouble could lie ahead.

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