Subscribe
The insider's edge on job search & hiring™

Beyond mediocrity: Hiring teams

What’s the trend in hiring today that desperately signals the need for a new trend? Hiring mediocre people.

The clearest sign that companies make too many mediocre hires is the prevalence of garbage-in recruiting methods, all centered on the online seine fishing technique. Companies cast a wide net and pull in anything they can get. This in turn promotes random applications from job hunters who are looking for a job, any job. Rather than targeting smart problem-solvers they’d love to recruit, employers limit themselves to the lesser-of-evils. Is it any wonder businesses find themselves in trouble? They’re not hiring the talent they need; they’re hiring who comes along. So, where’s the desired talent? Busy working, not trawling the job boards for random jobs.

Which brings me to what I believe will be the next hiring trend. Companies will hire teams of people rather than individuals. Why? Because companies need solutions, not just more hires. They need concrete plans and schedules for getting a job done, not resumes that describe past history.

Consider what happens when you shove your resume in a manager’s face (or e-mail box). You’re not solving the manager’s problem. You’re telling the manager, “Here I am. Here are my credentials. Here’s my history. Here are my achievements. Now, you go figure out what the hell to do with me.

The trouble is, managers suck at that. They’re too busy doing their own jobs, and unless you spell out a solution, they’re not going see how you fit into their team.

Companies already know how to hire teams, and they do it routinely. When a company absolutely, positively needs to tackle a challenge, it hires consultants and the firms behind them. And in that model we find the trend that truly talented people need to capitalize on. You and your buddies need to approach employers as a team that has studied a company’s challenges and that can deliver good strategies and solutions on a schedule. You will blow away any competing job hunter not just because of the value you offer, but because a team faces no competition. You cannot be lumped in with the other 10,000 resumes and applications that dropped into the manager’s e-mail bin. You offer a unique and compelling opportunity. You stand out from every mediocre resume in the heap.

(I’m not suggesting that companies should forego hiring raw talent in favor of the problem-solution-du-jour. In his book, Smart & Gets Things Done, software developer Joel Spolsky suggests that hiring smart, capable people is the most important step toward solving specific problems and building a successful business. He also warns managers not to hire mediocre people, even if they’re the only applicants available, and cautions that common bulk-recruiting methods are the costly path to failure.)

Yah, this is off the wall. It doesn’t fit the process companies use to hire. And that’s the point. In his brilliant, short book, Management of the Absurd, Richard Farson points out that good management is not about process. It’s about being able to cope well with situations that arise. The situation here is that companies can’t find the help they need because they are too busy following the process and hiring what comes long. If you’re very good at what you do, you are likely to get bypassed.

When a small company really needs a job done, it turns to a consulting firm. When a medium-sized company needs a job done, it outsources work to a specialist firm. When a big company needs a job done, it contracts to a small, nimble firm — or just buys it. When any of these companies have critical needs, they essentially hire a team — largely, I believe, because they don’t have the time (or, often, the ability) to hire several individuals and quickly turn them into a productive unit.

Job hunting should not be about getting a job. It should be about delivering relevant capabilities; solving problems; and providing organized talent that’s not commonly available. There is power (and often, though not always, a higher level of talent) in numbers. My prediction is that the next trend in hiring will arrive quietly under the radar because few companies will get it. Smart workers will travel in groups and provide an uncommon solution, and smart companies will hire them.

[This posting originally appeared some time ago in my old InfoWorld blog, which is no longer available.]

Leave a Reply