In 1914, Ernest Shackleton put together a great team of individuals to accomplish one of the most challenging expeditions mankind had ever faced. His goal was to lead 27 people on foot across the entire continent of Antarctica. Many people, including those who knew some of what they would face, thought they were out of their minds and that success was doubtful. Ironically enough, it was this degree of difficulty and the radical vision of Shackleton to do something that nobody had ever dreamed of or dared to try that created the magnetism for attracting the right candidates for the job. Here is the ad that Shackleton wrote to recruit his team. Keep in mind that this ad drew more than 5,000 responses!
“Men wanted for hazardous journey. Small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger. Safe return doubtful. Honor and recognition in case of success.”
Transposing this story and concept on the world of business today, the very best candidates for the job are those who want their time and talents pushed to their limits. The performers who are willing and able to redefine their definition of difficulty and push their level of engagement significantly higher, want to work for a company, and a leader, who thinks much bigger than average. The $64,000 question for you, as a leader or manager, who is looking to hire the very best people for the job is this:
Is your company’s vision and mission to accomplish something in your industry that has never been done before? How is your opportunity so radically different than any of your competitors? Why should a very qualified candidate (who is likely working for a competitor right now) raise their hand and show interest in what you have to offer? Is the value proposition of what you offer to someone compelling enough to gain interest of the very best people?
Here is a good exercise to start answering these questions. Ask yourself and your colleagues this: If a truly qualified person takes this role that we are recruiting to, what will they learn, do and become as a result of working for us in this specific role? Will they learn, do and become something much more significant than where they currently are now? Is the opportunity here at our company and in this role showcased in a creative way that clearly showcases a value proposition that resonates a great opportunity to learn, do and become something significant?
If you’re not getting great results, the answers to these questions is probably closer to no than it is to yes. Just for comparison, go online to any big job board and pull up some ads from other companies. Put yourself in the shoes of a candidate and read what they are offering. Is the ad really creative? Does it stand out in a compelling way? Is the value proposition of the company so strong that you feel the pull to want to investigate? Is there a strong opportunity to learn, do and become something more significant than where you currently are?
Go back and look at how Shackleton created a very compelling and strong message in his ad about how his team members would be pushed, challenged and rewarded by joining his crew. Use what he taught us to create a much more compelling opportunity in your company.
I welcome your comments, questions and inquires about this subject. Thank you!