Thursday 13 December 2012

Upside Down Recruiting and Talent that Whispers

Here's the 7th chapter of the ebook. Feel free to comment and share with us your views on the subject. Don't forget that you can now access the full version of the ebook

Upside Down Recruiting and Talent that Whispers

If experience is not the sole predicator of success, what is and how do we assess it? Here are two techniques that recruiters have established to discover undervalued or undiscovered stars(1).

Upside down recruiting

Pioneered by Todd Carlisle, a recruiter for Google, upside down recruiting was a response to Google’s realisation that they were looking at engineers CVs far too narrowly, mainly on their academic prowess, educational background and history of achievement. However, many of these geniuses weren't as successful as Google had hoped. Carlisle realised that Google had to take a wider view. Test scores alone were not the measure of the candidate.
There was space at Google for people who had worked to pay for their college tuition, those who had chased athletic success or people who had been running businesses or taking part in multiple extra curricular activities. These people might have faltering academic success but for very good reason. Traditionally, Google who was receiving thousands of resumes a week would hit the reject button.
The best hope of spotting these concealed stars was reviewing the bottom of the resume. There, Carlisle could find out that “someone had competed in four Alaska Marathons…or had made it into the Guinness book of world records…or had published three software manuals by age twenty-five. For the right job these weren't peripheral details. They might be powerful insights into someone’s character or on-the-job potential(2)” So Carlisle tapped page down on resumes and started at the bottom of resumes looking for nascent potential.

Talent that Whispers

In another corner of Silicon Valley, in 2006, Facebook were struggling to increase their team of computer programmers with similarly talented engineers. They couldn't just steal engineers from Google and Microsoft. They didn't have time to recruit at university campuses. They needed engineers immediately. So they built puzzles. Yishan Wong, who put the puzzles together, said, “We developed this theory that occasionally there were these brilliant people out there who hadn't found their way to Silicon Valley. They might be languishing in ordinary tech jobs. We needed a way to surface them.”
            Over 2500 miles away Evan Priestly was completely bored working as a back office computer coder. By any standard success indicators Priestly didn't look gifted at anything. His work history and college grades were average. But when Priestly, saw the Facebook’s puzzle he solved it in forty-five minutes. And when Facebook invited him for a face-to-face interview he dazzled the assessing engineer by telling him that although he could solve the test they gave him it was badly constructed. His college and peripatetic career to date no longer mattered. He was a brilliant programmer. Facebook had found talent that whispered.
Finding auditions that work, specific to your company, are key in finding and selecting undervalued talent. Facebook didn't care that Priestly didn't attend the Ivy League. They could jettison all criteria apart from the one that mattered: Could he drive their company forward.

[1] Quote from George Anders, the Rare find
[2] All these concepts and examples are from George Anders Book, The Rare Find.

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