The Search for the Perfect Job Candidate

perfect job candidate

If you’re like most hiring managers, your first objective is to hire the perfect candidate, the one who possesses 100 percent of what you are seeking. While this is a great goalthe reality is that the perfect candidate simply does not exist.

Recently, I wrote a post on “How to reduce your hiring costs” in which I suggest that when recruiting, you should adopt the mindset of Reducing Your Risk. I stressed that when it comes to hiring, people are like a box of chocolates--you never know what you’re gonna get! All you can really do is minimize your risk, and that means being as smart as possible about hiring and doing everything possible to eliminate the unknowns associated with the costly mistake of a bad hire.

pareto's principle

That being said, in your pursuit of finding the perfect candidate, it is important to understand Pareto’s Principle, i.e. the 80-20 rule, which originally referred to the observation that 80 percent of Italy’s wealth belonged to only 20 percent of the population. What Pareto was saying is that roughly 80 percent of output can be attributed to 20 percent of the effort. When applied to business, it looks like this:

80% of your sales come from about 20% of your products or services

80% of your results come from about 20% of your employees

80% of your profits come from about 20% of your customers

How to use the 80-20 rule to hire top talent:

To apply this rule, you need to start by first identifying what success looks like in the role, so you have a benchmark against which to measure candidates. For more on this, Download our FREE e-book, The Peak Performance Profile (P3): the Job Description of the Future.

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Next, you should implement a Structured Hiring Process. This should include step by step details of what, where, when and how you will conduct the hiring process from start to finish.

Now, assuming you have clearly defined the role, implemented a structured hiring process and trained your hiring managers on how to do all of this properly, realize that the best you can do is to identify candidates who possess about 80 percent of what you are seeking in the role and for the remaining 20 percent that the candidates are lacking, you will have to train them, decide that this 20 percent is something that you can live without, or delegate those tasks to someone else.

If you don’t have the time or money to train and develop people, then lower your expectations and find a way to work around the 20 percent.But remember this: Even the top 20 percent need on-going training and development. Elvis took singing lessons while he was at the top of his game; Michael Jordan spent his off season practicing 100s of jump shots every day; top doctors and lawyers all take continuing education each year to help them stay on the cutting edge, as do the top 20 percent in any field.

For new hires, this means that you need to provide even the best candidates with a structured on-boarding and training program. As much as they may bring to the table, they still need to learn about your company, industry and other specifics they will need to be successful in their new role and become fully productive in the shortest amount of time.

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