Can you describe your ideal talent?

Some years ago many companies were actively hiring the “best talents”. Everyone used “best talent” as their recruiting criteria when describing who they are looking to hire.

When asking, what does it mean, the explanation was typically:

“Well someone with a great attitude!”

This Mr or Ms Great Attitude became one of the most sought after talents in the talent market. But how do you recognize this remarkable person from the crowds? And is it best for our business to hire Great Attitude?

My ideal talent is not the same as yours

Having worked with recruiting and in connection with recruiting now for almost two decades, the ideal talent has never meant the same for each and every hiring manager.

In fact, I’m pretty sure my ideal talent is not the same as yours. Even if we were both asking for the great attitude.

This, I have noticed, is due to “great attitude” meaning often personality traits very similar to our own. Often times, hiring our identical personality twins is not the best idea. But also, if we ask someone else to find this person for us, we really must be more specific about what makes the Great Attitude we are looking for. Otherwise they will look for their Great Attitude.

What makes a Talent ideal?

If the “ideal talent” was a box, what would you deposit in that box?

Over the years of working with a large number of hiring managers, recruiters as well as hiring for my own businesses, I’ve noticed many of us tend to deposit too many personally important characteristics in that box.

An ideal talent to any single business should never be just about who we as managers like or prefer. It’s as much if not even more about what does our business require in that specific position we are hiring to.

An ideal talent to any single business should never be just about who we as managers like or prefer. It’s as much if not even more about what does our business require in that specific position we are hiring to.

Of course, as a business manager myself, I look for people who I find easy to work with, who share my ideas about how to do our business, who want to deliver our customer promise in the same or similar ways we see fit. As a manager, my ideal talent delivers me solutions, not more problems and stress.

But it is not just that. It is also about their capabilities to do the job I hire them for.

Make sure your Great Attitude matches with the requirements of the job

I remember a time when I worked with a hiring manager who was highly extrovert, very talkative and extremely skilled socially. I call him John here.

John really loved to talk and be around people. In fact so much so, that he would also disturb with his constant walking around the office with a coffee mug in his hands filling his own energy tanks up.

John needed to hire a person to a back office role for his team to deal with paper work, contracts, reports and so on. He needed someone to keep things in order.

He was very adamant he needed an equally talkative and social person to the role. I said no. Your back office person will need to be able to sit at the back of the office (funnily enough, that department was at the back of the office), be able to concentrate on tasks requiring accuracy and details, and get those reports done by deadline. These tasks were actually John’s job, but with his work personality, he just could not get them done.

“Sorry to say John, but your character is really not known for any of those skills. If we mirror the ideal candidate for this role on your own personality, we will be making a hiring mistake. I wouldn’t hire you either for this role.”

When we hire Great Attitude, we must make sure it also matches with the requirements of the job.

The Strategically Ideal Talent

To help our customers to grasp the uniqueness of their Ideal Talent I came up with the concept of The Strategically Ideal Talent years ago.

It has helped our customers a great deal in further describing who is their Best Talent in the times if digital change.

(1) The strategically ideal talent is unique to your business.

It is not a universal profile. A strategically ideal talent to one company may not necessarily be ideal to the next one at all. Even if this person was experienced and very capable in their job.

My business has a lot of tech customer companies who all hire software developers. Even if they look for the same programming skills, there are great differences in who they want to hire among all of the available software developers.

(2) The strategically ideal talent ticks many relevant boxes.

Hiring today is hardly for just a specific skill or past experience. Especially when we look for educated professionals. The strategically ideal talent has the right attitude, base competencies, is highly motivated to learn and usually also self driven.

Lack of previous experience can truly be overcome by near future potential. A person who is able to learn fast and adopt new ways of work and information tends to be at least as valuable as someone with long experience but no willingness to adapt their ways of work or learn new skills. 

(3) The strategically ideal talent changes over time.

One mistake we see many companies do over and over is to hire for the past. It’s very common to dig out that old job post when you need to hire again for the same role.

If you are a growth company, your ideal talent profiles will change over time, as your business grows and evolves.

From one business life cycle to another, we have different needs and expectations for and from our talents. What a business needs from it’s talents during the first years of business is often very different than what it needs in the later stages of it’s life cycle. 

This is a very important to understand especially in startups and fast scaling growth companies. If we copy paste a job post or job description from the past, we will be hiring for the past, not for the future.

To summarize: when we look for that ideal talent with great attitude, we must look beyond the personality traits we personally prefer. And we must hire for the future, not for the past.

The difference between an ideal talent and the strategically ideal talent

  • An ideal talent matches the work personality requirements of the job in addition to the possible competence requirement.
  • An ideal talent matches also our company culture. This person shares our values and naturally dives into our ways of work.

The strategically ideal talent is even more.

This person is not a match to our current staffing needs. The strategically ideal person brings us what our business needs in the upcoming future, most likely the next 18-24 months.

The strategically ideal talent has competencies, characteristics and potential to help our business grow and succeed.

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