Monday, December 05, 2016

How Rudolph Got Hired

One of my favorite Christmas movies is the beloved holiday classic, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. The undeniably loveable, wobbly legged reindeer with his shiny red nose. I was three when I was first introduced to Rudolph.  Four decades later and after two decades in the Talent Acquisition industry, I’ve come to look at the story of Rudolph from a whole different lens. 

Rudolph had a unique skill set that set him apart from his peers.  A talent that was not initially recognized as valuable, yet would become vital to saving Christmas. His shiny red nose.  When Rudolph is seen participating in the annual reindeer games, Comet is aghast by the presence of his illuminating nose and dons him unfit for duty.  Despite Rudolph being able to fly higher than any of the other reindeer during tryouts.  In Comet's mind, Rudolph did not fit the traditional job description.
Too often I’ve seen hiring managers make the same mistake. They hire in a vacuum.  They refuse to look at candidates who deviate even a fraction from the required skills of a job description.  Today’s business world is changing at a relentless frenetic pace.  This is largely contributed to the constant explosion of new technology, digital transformation, data and analytics and the like.  We cannot go to market with such linear thinking about the talent we need to get the job done.  If we want to hire innovative, creative talent we need to think more innovatively and creatively when assessing talent.  We need to look more at the individual sitting across from us and less at the job description.  Gone are the days of traditional hiring practices.  Granted candidates should meet the basic requirements of a role and honor your cultural and core values; however we should not be quick to eliminate those that are risk takers, quirky, forward thinkers or who don’t fit into the status quo mold.  We should challenge ourselves to seek out ways they could add value to our organizations. 
If Albert Einstein were alive today, I guarantee there would be companies that would immediately reject his candidacy. He was the epitome of quirky. He was what left of center calls left of center, yet he was one of the greatest minds and influencers of the 20th century.  To hire such talent we need to look beyond the resume and stale job requirements.
Like many organization who fail to see potential risk, no one at the North Pole foresaw the blinding snow storm that took place on Christmas Eve.  I do find it surprising they were void of a contingency plan given it was the North Pole and snow was, well, their thing.  They needed an immediate creative solution.  Rudolph, for all intends and purposes, did not fit the traditional job description yet, in the end, his quirky, innovative skill set, that initially no one saw the value in, became the solution to saving Christmas that year. 
One of my favorite moments in the movie is when Santa readies the sleigh for take-off and asks, “Are you ready, Rudolph” and Rudolph enthusiastically replies “READY SANTA”.  He had always been ready even though the North Pole wasn't ready for him.  He was very much ahead of his time.  His passion, drive, determination and unusual skills propelled him from being rejected and considered unfit for duty to leading the pack and being the hero.
Don’t make the same mistakes Rudolph’s leadership and hiring team made.  Hire people who will best represent the direction your company is heading and are cutting edge thinkers and creative problem solvers.  Hire people smarter than you.  Hire people who will challenge you to approach your business from a whole new paradigm.  Hire the unicorn of an individual who is highly capable of getting the work done, but makes you scratch your head a little.  They just might end up saving your company one day!

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