The insider's edge on job search & hiring™

On the edge of the curve

I’ve chided companies for using mundane recruiting methods and salary scales that result in hiring people on the fat part of the bell curve. Management guru Tom Peters suggests recruiting and hiring weirdos — people on the thin, leading edge of the curve; people who will upset the balance at your company and take you in new directions. Those people cost money — lots of money — because they’re (surprise!) on the leading edge of the curve.

Some companies use headhunters to recruit good people — for whatever reason: their HR department can’t do it well; they like to spend money; they like an outsider’s perspective; they like the networks that good headhunters maintain.

But the same bell-curve problem exists when a company hires a headhunter: You hire the best — out on the edge of the curve — or you use a mediocre headhunter to save money (and time, if you’re too lazy to go find the best). The problem is exactly the same: you’re buying mediocrity.

Now you can hire mediocrity more efficiently, using a market-price solution to recruiting: This is the Priceline of recruiting, where recruiters with time on their hands compete in the free market’s oldest game, How Low Can You Go?

  • Good workers don’t work cheap, and you don’t find them on the discount job boards. They Live Like an Exception.
  • Good headhunters don’t work cheap, and you won’t find them bidding to give away their fees. They’re too busy recruiting.

Fish at the lowest end of the food chain congregate in huge schools, competing to be your dinner. Watch the bell curve form out in the water… it’s surrounded by boats with big, wide nets fishing for quantity. Likewise, discount shopping is best on the fat part of the performance curve, where the prices are reasonable, the product is plentiful, and the results are mediocre. (Check #1 and #7 in 7 Mistakes Internal Recruiters Make.)

Once again, the Net brings the lowest common denominator to our desktops — and other markets of mediocrity. You get what you pay for. Guaranteed.

  1. Yep, good article. It’s just like for software developers (that’s literally the name of the website, I’m not making up a funny name). Basically people who either can’t get work professionally or want to cut their teeth learning programming bid to develop for pennies on the dollar. People looking for software talent on are like people looking for recruiters on — bottom feeders.

  2. Great post. Just when I thought the commoditization of “human resources” and recruiting had hit bottom, a new site comes along to lower the bar.

    As one who works in an industry where human skill remains the ONLY competitive advantage, gives me one big hope: That my competitors are wasting their time and burning their reputations in this new “recruiting marketplace.”

  3. A fellow developer taught a saying the he learned from his father. “You get what you pay for — at best.”

    So true.

  4. There is an article which I found interesting that basically reiterated “The Mythical Man Month” but it presented a case study.’t+We+Just+Offshore+Him?.htm

  5. Lucille,

    Efforts to “control costs” by hiring cheaper workers overseas are too often shortsighted. John Miano’s article is the best discussion about softare development and cost that I’ve seen – thanks for sending it along! Employers would do well to tackle the challenge of project management before tackling cost savings… cheaper programmers don’t mean cheaper software development…!

  6. People should read this.

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