The Perfect (candidate) is the enemy of The Good

 by John Reaves Whitaker, VP – Talent Acquisition at DentalOne Partners

There’s still some mystery as to who, exactly, coined the phrase “The perfect is the enemy of the good,” but it’s a lesson that we try to impart in our recruiting practices every day. It’s pretty simple to find the applicability – instead of hunting for the purple squirrel, look in your front yard and pick the best of the brown version within arm’s reach. Is that the same as settling? I don’t know, but I’m sure there are plenty of 50-year old bachelors still waiting for the perfect girl – how’s that working out?

We know in Talent Acquisition that is not how it always plays out, right? Most recruiters still have a few hiring managers they can count on to “pass” on candidates almost as a hobby. I know more than once, a savvy recruiter has “saved” their favorite candidates for submission until late in the process simply to avoid the rubber stamp “No” from said hiring manager. It’s a mindset that can be difficult to overcome, but it doesn’t have to be hopeless. Next time you are in a conversation with a particularly selective hiring manager, ask questions about their current team. What, in his/her estimation, has been the key attributes of the top performers on the team?

Now, how many of those attributes are the kind that show up on a resume?

This is not to discount the minimum necessary requirements needed to be considered for a job, but how often are hiring managers (and recruiters) spending time looking for additional assurances in technical/intellectual indicators as opposed to considering the personal inventory we each possess as it relates to social and emotional behaviors.

Remember, “Emotional Intelligence” became a huge buzzword for a reason – it continues to be proven, whether it’s a study of impoverished kids breaking out of the cycle of poverty or a group of PhD.’s tracked over the course of 40 years to measure their comparative success. A person’s IQ and/or technical abilities are rarely the catalyst for breakaway success – it’s not the resume, it’s the person behind the resume.

The point is moot, however, if the recruiter isn’t screening for those “other” behaviors from the outset. What message is inherent in your employer value proposition? How is your job posting aligned with the “other” rather than the “required?”

When you go into the process looking for “good,” you may be surprised how often “perfect” was there all along.


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