I was reading a really interesting article in Forbes by Lou Adler, who I happen to think is very smart, about a time he helped a client recognize what he was looking to get done, as opposed to looking for a unicorn who could do everything. This is something we encounter a great deal in our work in talent acquisition. A big part of it, is defining what the person you hire is supposed to accomplish. It got me to thinking….

I’ve never been a huge fan of business/ self-help books – I’m pretty sure someone a one minute manager hit a tipping point and moved your cheese into your chicken soup, because. That said, I also know a good idea when I hear one (or, when I refuse to acknowledge it, fail catastrophically, and then say “Oh, what a good idea, I’m glad I recognized it…”). One of them is from the 7 Habits. It’s very appropriate when it comes to writing job descriptions, and I’ve told many a client this: begin with the end in mind.

What do you want this role to achieve? From there, pull back. How can that be achieved – by what actions? Then, work back, and find people who have demonstrated they can take those types of actions, successfully. Even if the ends they were achieving were not the exact same as the client was looking for, the abilities inherent in their ability to take those tactical actions are transferable quite often. It usually comes down to a base level knowledge of the industry, smarts, the ability to think around corners, creativity, and communication skills.

Once you have that lined up, it’s pretty likely your client (internal or external) is going to have the same “that’s what I meant to say” reaction – and that’s a good thing. It means your lined up, and you can define your search a whoooole lot better.

It’s not magical, really, but it gets people on-point, and away from getting lost in bullet after bullet of “requirements”. I mean, everyone loves a unicorn – especially the Scots, oddly enough – but… nobody likes hunting them.

And this picture… this is simply what the Internet’s given us…