The scenario: Really, really big dude across the valley wants to fight only one of us. Whoever wins, the whole army wins.
Commander to recruiter, “I want you to find someone to fight this gargantuan warrior and kill him. He’s huge! Good luck! Oh, and don’t fail.”
Recruiter to commander: “OK, got it. What do you want to see in this person, and what’s in it for them?”
Resulting job ad – minus the hype.
Everywhere the recruiter looks there are candidates who seem to fit the bill in some way or another: old enough, military experience, obviously dressed in armor right now, motivated for the riches and king's daughter, but who has killed a giant?
Has anyone killed a giant? Anyone?
Recruiter (to himself): Man, the war for talent is tough and getting tougher! It's so difficult to find the perfect candidate. I wonder if anyone from that other army there could be enticed to work for us? Surely someone there knows how to take this giant down.
Maybe that's not possible for me to get to them, but that one guy I interviewed from my ad must be at least 5 foot 10 and probably goes 215 pounds. Seems like a tough guy. Definitely wants the tax-free bonus. He hasn't killed any giants, but he's the best we've got. I think I'll just go with him. The commander likes him anyway, and so do I. Woo-hoo! I'll go tell the commander.
From the crowd, "Hey, I want to fight this giant!" A young lad approaches.
Recruiter: "Well, we're an equal opportunity combat unit, so let's get this over with."
Now, let's imagine the interview:
Interviewer: "I see that you don't have any military experience. Hmmm....and uh, you look a bit 'ruddy,' and quite small. What did you say your name was again?"
Shepherd boy: "David, sir. I know I can do this, just let me show you."
Interviewer: "Let me ask you one more thing. Can you try this armor on and walk around?"
Shepherd boy: "I'll try."
Tries it on, stumbles, and quickly asks for it to be removed.
Interviewer: "I'm afraid this just isn't going to work out."
Most interviewers would have dropped it here, but this is a savvy recruiter skilled to dig for more information with all the latest training.
Interviewer: "Why was it that you thought you were qualified for this in the first place?"
Shepherd boy: "Well, I've killed a lion."
Interviewer: "A lion?"
Shepherd boy: "Yes sir, and a bear."
Interviewer: "A bear, too? Tell me about the lion."
Shepherd boy: "Well, he took one of my father's sheep, so I pursued him to get it back."
Interviewer: "Wait a minute. You chased after a lion?"
Shepherd boy: "That's correct. And then I attacked him and rescued the lamb from his mouth."
Interviewer: "Just like that?"
Shepherd boy: "Oh no. He rose up against me, and when he did, I seized him by his beard and struck him and killed him."
Interviewer: "That's amazing. What about the bear?"
Shepherd boy: "Very similar circumstance. I was tending the flock and a bear snuck in and stole one of my father's sheep. I had a little more confidence since I had killed a lion, so I chased him down, got the sheep back, attacked the bear and killed him when he raised his paw to kill me."
Interviewer: "Why would anyone in their right mind chase after a lion or a bear?"
Shepherd boy: "Because the sheep belong to my father and he counts every one meticulously. It's my job to look after them and put myself in harm's way if I have to. There's nothing that will stop me from doing what's right for them. Speaking of which, I'm pretty irritated this this giant over there is throwing out insults and begging war. Is anyone going to do anything about this? How soon can I start?"
Interviewer: "Hold on now for a minute. I think we might be getting ahead of ourselves. I can appreciate your stories about the lion and the bear, but you just don't meet the qualifications of what the commander requires."
Ok, so the last line changed. You know the real story, or you can find out easily enough.
Let's look back at each of the requirements that the recruiter got from the commander. None of them was related to talent, but instead was: time on the job, training, credentials, exact duplicate experience, etc.
What's critical is TALENT - deep inside the very heart of that particular boy, combined with a passion for issues of principle - is what won the battle in the real story.
Do we need to look harder for talent? Perhaps, but maybe it's not in another job board, competitor, or something else. Maybe the harder looking involves understanding the desired outcomes before you start, clarifying what strengths are required, and then searching for the underlying talents of past performers, digging deep into what they are competent to accomplish.