Recruiting the 85 Bears

Well…I have been away for a while.  Took a new job.  Actually, I went back to a company where I did 10 years of my finest work.  The start-up I was at…well…tons of fun…I just couldn’t figure out how to spend “fun.”  So here I am – attempting to re-live the 1985 Chicago Bears super bowl year.  I’m super excited to re-join this company as I had the greatest memories, made the most money, and truly earned my stripes in software sales.  That’s the good news.  Bad news was, I joined a turn-around business, and I needed to hire 5 super-human sellers…NOW!  So…after 45 days on the clock, I found all 5 players…hand-picked…drafted with the finest pedigree.  I am SUPER-PUMPED, and for the first time in my career, I pointed to the center-field wall Babe Ruth-style!  Assuming you believe me that these players are indeed A’s, you will want to know how I found them so quickly?  Glad you asked, as I am outlining my secret sauce of recruiting.

To understand the “how,” you must first understand the “why.”  More specifically, why did I hand-pick these people?  This is foundationally crucial, because if you don’t get the why right, the how will fail.  I won’t outline my methodical scorecard of hiring A’s on this blog post (this will be a separate post in the future), but essentially I have a very precise formula for hiring:  Skill, will, and intellectual property.  But as a foundation to these skills and behavioral attributes, it’s MOST important to find people with great character.  Ery’one says that, huh?  I say this a bunch…this notion is simple, but not easy.  So, now that you understand the why, let’s look at how I was able to pick off 5 stars from comfy gigs.  It’s notable that 2 took a demotion to take roles in my business, 1 left a business that all but guaranteed his quota to be met, and another is taking a territory that is less than attractive compared to his current job.

  1. Character attracts character. Proverbs 27:17 says, “Iron sharpeneth iron, so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.”  People want to get better…no doubt.  They want to make money…sure.  But true iron wants to be around great humans.  I lead off each conversation with the culture I’m building in my business…and it starts with character.  If you don’t have it, people with great character will see it quickly and run.
  2. Focus on the person, not the skills. I didn’t ask ANY typical interview questions like, “walk me through a complex deal…”    I went after folks who either I knew, or folks knew them very well…and their track records were already proven.  So…why ask Junior Varsity questions if they’ve already won state championships?  I spent 100% of my time flushing out whether they had character…and they knew what I was doing and why.
  3. WYSIWYG (What you see is what you get). I wreaked of honesty, bluntness, and left the selling/positioning/spinning for a different day.  This is someone’s career.  They deserve honesty.  I started with the good, but quickly went to the bad and the ugly so they knew I cared less about whether they would take my job, but that I was going to be honest with them.  Seeing a theme yet?  Character trumps content.
  4. I pried into what their career goals were and did my best to align that with what I had. A few wanted money, so I talked about the patch.  Some want to climb the ladder, so I expressed what I knew about career progression.  Others wanted to work in a great culture, so I told them about the culture I’m building.  Simple notion, but I personally have rarely seen a hiring manager interview me in this manner.  Most bosses are too busy trying to find a skill-set alignment with what they need vs. what the candidate wants.  This is why people get B’s and not A’s.
  5. I made them the “point.” When they call, I respond immediately.  If they had a question, I stepped out of a meeting and took their call.  I try to do this anyway with all my team…but especially important for these candidates.

I will report back on how these A’s do.  No doubt in my mind this is the finest team I’ve ever seen in 20 years.  The 85 Bears are back…and this time we mean business.

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