As a society, we have a long history of celebrating the talents of extraordinary people. Emily Dickinson, Eleanor Roosevelt, George Washington, Colin Powell, Albert Einstein, Bill Gates, Mozart, and Michael Jordan have each brought the highest level of success (and excitement) to their respective positions.

If you take a close look at the successes of these individuals, you will find that their talents (creativity, compassion, organization, dependability, inventiveness/vision, daring, and competitive skill) are intrinsic to their personality style. The success they have attained (and continue to attain) is a function of finding the perfect fit between role and talent.

  • Blue: Emily Dickinson, Eleanor Roosevelt
  • Gold: George Washington, Colin Powell
  • Green: Albert Einstein, Bill Gates
  • Orange: Wolfgang Mozart, Michael Jordan

How do you find the right fit?

Finding the right employee for the job requires some forward thinking on the part of managers. There must be a clear understanding of the role that is to be filled, the talents that are required for success in that role, and the overriding culture of the organization. Only when these are clearly defined, can managers find the people that they need for the long haul.

In the choice of your profession or business employment, let your first thought be: Where can I fit in so that I may be most effective in the work of the world? Where can I lend a hand in a way most effective to advance the general interests? Enter your life in such a spirit, chose your vocation in that way, and you have taken the first step on the highest road to a large success.

In order to put the advice if the experts into practice in our hiring decisions, we must first define and identify talent, as "any reoccurring pattern of behavior that can be productively applied". To some, that may be a somewhat startling statement. It means that everyone possesses strengths and talents. It means that everyone is a potentially successful candidate for hire.

What makes a hiring decision successful?

Successful managers realize that in order to maintain productiveness in their departments, they must match a potential employee's skill set with the needs of the position. They realize that no one factor (i.e. experience) is more important than a match between talents and role.

Consider the following: There are two applicants for a position in a software development company where it is required that employees be self-driven and competitive to succeed. Candidate 1 has the knowledge required, a degree from a prestigious school, and 5 years experience. Candidate 2 has the knowledge required and 3 years experience. Both have excellent portfolios and references.

On the surface, it seems as if Candidate 1 would be the better choice because, all other things being equal, he/she has a higher level of education and more experience. However, upon taking a closer look at temperament by asking some specific questions about work styles, some revelations become apparent. Candidate 1 prefers to work in a collaborative environment where there is consistent feedback while Candidate 2 lives for the challenge of doing the impossible. With this revealed, Candidate 2 becomes the better choice for the job. Had the manager not actively sought out this information, a hiring mistake might have been made.

While simplistic, this example illustrates the importance of understanding the needs of the role and the effects of the company's culture on that role. It is also a good example of how a resume (and even a portfolio) is not enough.

What are the implications?

Prospective employees and managers alike have been operating under the understanding that the onus of getting a job is on the applicant. While this is true, to a great extent, the responsibility of successfully locating an applicant with talents matching the role and culture of the company is almost solely that of the manager.

Managers must begin to look at resumes and portfolios as one piece of a greater puzzle. They must develop questioning techniques to discover the work styles and effective motivators of prospective employees. They must take an honest look at the roles they need to fill and the demands of their company's culture on employees.

When managers make hiring proactive, better hiring decisions can be made. When talents and roles are effectively matched, we discover that the talents of the employees in their various roles are indeed the strength of our businesses.

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