Don’t hire an empty suit, look outside the box
Because of the tight job market of the past several years, most employers have had their pick of qualified candidates. Their wish lists are often a narrowly focused reflection of those already on the team. And that’s not always a good thing, according to Michael Carrillo, president of CPGjobs.
“When employers have their pick of candidates they often pick a person who looks just like the one they’re replacing, ” Carrillo observes. “For example: Candidate A matches the job specs exactly, but doesn’t have an exceptional record. Candidate B is brilliant, but has never worked in the industry or doesn’t have an advanced degree. In my experience, Candidate A gets the job almost every time because it seems the safest choice.”
Carrillo says, “The result of hiring ‘perfect fits’ has repercussions far beyond a single job opening. “Some organizations suffer from a ‘group think’ mentality so insidious they don’t even know they have it. This can have disastrous results on decision-making.”
To avoid this fate, Carrillo recommends that hiring managers or internal staffers incorporate broad diversity goals in their hiring practices. “That doesn’t just mean ethnic and gender diversity. It means hiring people of different backgrounds, ages, education, training, skill-sets and disciplines. ”
Hiring “outside the box” could mean hiring someone from a different industry or it could mean hiring a highly capable career changer. And while it may seem counter-intuitive, “the payoff is worth it,”he says.
Diversity at work
“It’s always tempting to hire the most obvious candidate the one who could probably do the job with their eyes closed. That could be a problem because someone on the same career track a long time might have tunnel vision, or burnout,” Carrillo says. “Career and industry-changers, on the other hand, not only bring fresh perspective to their new jobs, they’re usually highly motivated to prove themselves.”
Non-traditional hiring also fits well into the diverse work team strategy gaining ground in U.S. business. A diverse work team is a group of individuals empowered to make corporate decisions, and they’re especially useful in organizations with fewer executives.
Carrillo agrees that “diverse work teams are effective if you have diversity on the team. But if you assemble a like-minded group of people, you’re going to get like-minded opinions,” he says. “The groups may run as smooth as silk but the thinking they produce can be mediocre, or worse. Everyone is thinking inside the same box.”
“Diversity is the key to today’s leaner corporate management structures. But we can’t get there from here without diversifying our talent pool and bringing in outside ideas.”
Ironically, while consumer packaged goods executives are often snatched up by outside industries, as in the “dot-com” boom, few CPG companies are willing to look at executives from outside the industry, Carrillo says. “I think the industry is focused too inward. We hire each other, we hire our competitors, and then we switch places again. We need experienced people, sure. But we need new blood and outside perspectives too.”