Why I Don’t Rule Out Failures While Hiring

Credit: geralt, pixbay.com

By Paul Petrone and Bill Palifka

Hey recruiters and hiring managers – the right failure is okay.

In hiring, everyone is looking for that superstar, that missing link. We all have to get the job done and the right person can make all the difference. But how do you find them?

As I start my fourth venture, I am wondering a lot these days about how we find success. I came to a few conclusions. Success is hard work. It takes special people to reach for a vision. Many try and a few make it. Failure is part of succeeding.

We can all point to people like Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and Tony Hsieh of Zappos who have truly rewritten the rules of what success can be and how it can be achieved. I do not think anyone would say that what Zuckerberg has done with Facebook is not amazing.

And if you do not know Hsieh, he got his entrepreneurial start as co-founder of online advertising company LinkExchange, which he sold to Microsoft for $265 million in 1998. He was 24. After dabbling as an investor in dozens of businesses, Hsieh joined Zappos, where he remains today — even though the Las Vegas-based company was acquired by Amazon in a 2009 deal valued at $1.2 billion.

For the rest of us, success does not come in such manner. There are many people that started out much more humble. Some even down right failed before becoming the person that we know today.

Did you know:

  • Steve Jobs of Apple sold land lines before the rise of the iPhone.
  • Oracle CEO Larry Ellison spent eight years bouncing from job to job as a technician for the Fireman’s Fund and Wells Fargo.
  • Michael Bloomberg, former Mayor of New York and media mogul, was fired after working at Salomon Brothers for 15 years.
  • Michael Dell earned $2.30 an hour at his first job.
  • Jeff Bezos worked at McDonalds
  • Bill Gates’ first company – Traf-O-Data – was a failure.

Behind most success stories is an embarrassing first effort, a stumble, a setback or a radical change of direction. For these titans of business, false starts and failures is just part of finding the way to success. So why, when interviewing, are we spending so much time looking for success and not more time looking for the right failures?

Yes, failure does have a stigma attached to it. No one wants to be labeled a failure and getting people to talk about failure is not easy. But failure does not always mean that you cannot get the job done. If Thomas Edison didn’t fail as much as he did, we might still be using candles to light our homes.

Failures can tell you a lot about a person. As a recruiter, it can tell you about a personality. How does the person handle stress and uncertainty? Do they shy away from a challenge or embrace it? Can they deal with change? Can they make course corrections or even start anew?

Failure allows for ideas to mature, lesson to be learned and an opportunity to try something different with new eyes. So when we see what looks to be failure on the resume, maybe there is more to hear. Maybe we should slow down, ask a few more questions and look a little closer.

Otherwise, you might just overlook your next superstar.

About VoiceGlance

VoiceGlance is a cloud-based hiring tool used by forward-thinking companies to hire smarter, instead of harder. Learn more here.

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Tags: Corporate Recruiting, Hiring, Recruiting

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