Don’t Look for Easy When it Comes to People

 Easy sells. That’s because we all want every product and service to be easy to implement and to drive immediate success. But when people are involved, easy is just a myth. People just can’t be simplified. If you are a hiring organization, it’s fairly easy to find a person, but it takes work to find the right person. And if you are an individual, it’s really easy for most people to find a job, especially right now, but it takes work to find the right job.  At Oyster OD we end up telling our clients this all the time. When it comes to talent, take the time to do it right, or you’ll just be repeating the process in three months, and that will cost you.

Let’s start with organizations. Managers and HR people are bombarded by ads promising to make hiring a cinch. “Just post your job here and only the perfect applicants will magically appear in your inbox.” “Use this search firm and we’ll handle your talent needs.” You might be able to do it that way, but you’re probably missing the best people. Finding talent takes time, not just in the applicant’s market we have right now, but even when it’s an employer’s market. Great people may have resumes that don’t get picked up in applicant tracking system searches, so they never make it into the “maybe” folder when you are searching. Having help from external recruiters is nice and they might be able to carry a lot of the burden, but stay deeply involved in evaluating both resumes and people.

You know your team. You know the culture. You know what success looks like. So when it’s a key position that requires just the right player and good tenure, don’t look for easy. Use technological tools well, and then get ready to work. Make sure the people you delegate to aren’t screening out diamonds in the rough—like people who are a little risky but may have a big payoff. You’ll be glad you did when you have a good hire in front of you.

Solid processes around talent acquisition are a good idea, but don’t let your process drive. Don’t have set questions that don’t vary by the position or that preclude valuable tangents. I was horrified last month when a friend working for a local county described their interview process. It was the same 7 questions for everyone, with no room to ask a follow-up. The process was driving the search, and human thoughtfulness and evaluation were absent. When panels or teams are used for interviewing, take the time to identify the right team. Don’t let the wrong people (those with different or even misaligned standards, or those with different expectations of the position) evaluate and possibly reject good people.

Now let’s look at individuals. It’s actually easy for most people to get a job right now. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy to get the right job, even if your skills are in demand. Individuals still need to remember that no one is looking out for them but themselves. I see too many people jump quickly for opportunities that look good, only to end up out of work and looking less desirable six months later (or sooner). Quality homework is essential. And understanding culture fit is just as important for applicants as it is for organizations. Note to everyone: Every organization is flawed in some way; make sure your expectations are reasonable, and that you have an accurate view of your own strengths and weaknesses.

You need to know if you fit. This is especially true when someone is leaving a decent job for what they hope will be a better one. Sometimes I talk with people who say they hate their jobs, and I push them hard on evaluating what they’ll lose if they make the wrong decision. Avoid the “frying pan into the fire” jump, because the right move is likely within your control if you ask the right questions and do your research well.

People. Decisions about them are rarely fast and they definitely aren’t easy. Whether you are the talent or are looking for talent, get ready to do some work to get it right. Don’t buy false promises.

Oyster OD doesn’t have much skin in this game since we are involved in talent acquisition only for clients. However, through coaching, we do help people become the kind of talent who land good jobs. For organizations, Oyster OD can help you know your culture and help you move from the kind of organization you have to the kind of organization you want—and be one that attracts the highest caliber people. Email us at to schedule a free one-hour consultation.

Julie Nielsen is president of Oyster Organizational Development, a firm that helps organizations and individuals be wildly successful through organizational effectiveness strategies and coaching. Julie has over 30 years of experience in helping organizations and individuals succeed. 

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