In the movie “Seabiscuit,” the story of the famous race horse, Charles Howard, Seabiscuit’s owner, played by Jeff Bridges, says, “The horse is too small, the jockey too big, the trainer too old, and I'm too dumb to know the difference.”
Everyone was telling him that he couldn’t make this combo work, and yet it did work, and Seabiscuit won big. If you’re like me, you’ve probably had people tell you that something you believed in wouldn’t work out, but you stuck with it and were rewarded with success.
It’s easy to buck conventional thinking if you are doing something simple like painting the den in an unusual color; after all, if it doesn’t work out you can always repaint it. But when it comes to hiring new employees, it can be a lot harder to take a risk. I believe there can be great rewards when hiring managers are willing to take that risk and think outside of the standard industry box. Let me explain why.
Like the rest of you, I’ve had times of unemployment, when your daily job is looking for work. You find yourself writing and then rewriting your resume, searching online forums and job search sites, and applying to every job that you can find. It’s particularly tough when you find out that a job that was a perfect fit for you was filled by a less experienced person. You may have spent the last 20 years doing this job at other companies, but because you weren’t fluent yet with, say, one software tool, the job was given to someone else with far less experience, but who could do this one thing.
I’ve also hired people, and I know what hiring managers face. But hiring managers may be hurting their companies by drawing up a list of expectations so tight that highly qualified people may be slipping between the cracks.
I am very aware of how difficult it is for you hiring managers to do your jobs. You have to follow the different rules and regulations for hiring, satisfying the legal and internal HR requirements. You also need to be able to assess multiple applicants without spending weeks or months of your time, and yet still find people who will be a good fit for the company. Being a hiring manager is a difficult job, one which usually doesn’t get the acknowledgement and praise that it deserves. But maybe, just maybe, you could help yourself by rethinking the job requirements for the next position to open a wider range of applicants for the job.
I know skillful designers who have been turned down for a position because they don’t have experience on a specific design technology, or time on a certain CAD tool. Some of these people have years and years of experience in multiple design technologies, creating some of the most intricate printed circuit boards that you can imagine, but they were turned down. There is certainly a need to find people with specific knowledge and skill sets, but the more you narrow the job requirements, the more likely you are to miss out on a real treasure of an employee.
If the job requirement is specifically for someone to design RF circuits using brand X software and this job must be producing results in the next couple of months, of course you should be searching for someone with those qualifications. If, however, you are simply increasing the staff of your design department because of anticipated growth, perhaps you shouldn’t have such a tight focus on specific design experience or software skills. If your requirements are so narrow that you weed out all but those who can do one specific task, you may be missing out on someone who would have been better at doing that task once they had a little time to learn your processes. This might be a very tough call, but I believe it should be considered.
To read this entire column, which appeared in the May 2018 issue of Design007 Magazine, click here.