Horsehoes, Hand Grenades, and Hiring: When “Close Enough” is “Good Enough”

by Ken Schmitt and Vicky Willenberg

Strong resume. Solid references. Excellent interview. This candidate has everything you want… Almost.

Like personal relationships, recruiting is all about finding the best person who possesses the qualifications you are looking for. And, like personal relationships, it’s virtually impossible to find the perfect fit. Hiring Managers invest extensive time and effort developing the most successful hiring strategy. Including stakeholders in the decision making and job description processes, as well as building a solid assessment and screening process go a long way toward ensuring that a role draws top talent. These same Hiring Managers are also working under the strain of limited time to fill the role, a fixed budget, and a laundry list of candidate “must haves.” The pressure to find the “perfect” candidate inadvertently leads to creating and looking for a candidate that simply doesn’t exist. Because of the parameters of the search, it’s easy to forget that “close enough” might, in fact, be “good enough.”
Is it possible for top talent to be “close enough” and “good enough?” We say ‘yes’ it is not only possible, but, based on our experience, it is highly probable.

4 Things That Make Your “Close Enough, Good Enough”

1. Identifying Deal Breakers versus Nice-to-Haves. If a Hiring Manager enters a job search expecting to find a candidate with all the bells and whistles, he or she is going to be disappointed and frustrated. Part of the hiring strategy should be to recognize that not every skill set or experience holds the same weight. Some criteria are more important than others. Therefore, prioritizing qualifications and experience into “Deal Breakers” and “Nice to Haves” will help you keep an open mind and avoid getting hung up on details that are ultimately less important than others.

2. Remembering that Transferrable Skills and Industries Make for a more Well-Rounded Candidate (and Department). It’s important for companies to remember that in most cases, transferable skills from an ancillary industry should be seriously considered. Not only does this offer a fresh perspective on your industry and selling style, but it also has the potential to introduce your organization to a whole new approach to customer engagement. Additionally, candidates with experience from multiple industries, demonstrates their ability to adapt to and perform in a variety of settings, sales cycles and processes. For example, if you are looking for someone in SaaS, they most likely have not worked with your exact product or service. However, a successful background selling other services or subscription based products highlights their ability to contribute consistently, meeting and exceeding their quotas and goals.

3. Pinpointing the Candidate’s Potential. Having the right technical skills is an important piece of the hiring puzzle; but it isn’t everything. Considering “soft skills” such as interpersonal and communications skills, thought processes, and emotional and social intelligence play an important role in evaluating whether a candidate has the potential to gain the necessary skills he or she might be lacking on paper, in your particular culture and selling environment.

4. Character Counts. It goes without saying that that a successful hiring strategy includes big data and “more than a feeling.”However, identifying character traits such as drive and leadership style are a pivotal part of the process. The “up and comer” with the willingness to “roll his sleeves up” will be able to contribute to the company’s long-term vision and be a team player- even if his previous job title or experience isn’t exactly what you thought you wanted.


About the Authors

Ken Schmitt is the President and Founder of TurningPoint Executive Search and the Sales Leadership Alliance. Specializing in placing sales, marketing and operations professionals across the country, Ken’s 16 years of recruiting experience have equipped him with the knowledge to serve as a thought partner to his clients for all recruiting, hiring and human capital-related initiatives. Ken sits on the board of Junior Achievement, the American Marketing Association, the San Diego HR Roundtable and is an Advisory Board Member for San Diego Sports Innovators (SDSI).

Vicky Willenberg has served as the Social Media Manager for TurningPoint since 2011. In 2014, she was elevated to Digital Marketing Manager, broadening her participation across all things digital for the firm. A former teacher with a Masters in Education, Vicky is an active and published blogger at The Pursuit of Normal and a marketing professional. She has her finger on the pulse of the latest trends in the recruiting, hiring and leadership sectors.


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