ATLANTA, GA – Very often I hear my clients lament that they’ve hired the wrong person.  Naturally, I hear this when clients call me to get a replacement for the wrong person they’ve hired.  Despite their best efforts, they’ve let the wrong person on the bus.  And now the wrong person needs to be ushered off the bus, and the right person needs to be identified, recruited, and seated [see page 8].

But here’s something to consider:  What if you fail to hire the right person, even when given the opportunity?  That’s what Warren Buffet calls a sin of omission, the kind that isn’t picked up by conventional accounting.  It’s like buyer’s remorse, only the buyer is remorseful that he didn’t buy.

That happened to me tonight.

My company is doing some hiring, and I just passed on a candidate who I’m sure will be incredibly successful some day.  She was right out of college, spilling into the worst job market college graduates have seen in several generations.  Was she bitter?  No.  Did she have a sense of entitlement because of her education and background?  No.  Did she have a great attitude, and was she positive outcome oriented?  Yes.

Was she humble?  Truly humble?  Yep.

It’s painful to pass on a candidate that I know would serve my clients so well.  As I interviewed this young lady, I thought to myself “My clients would love this person.  This person would be so driven to succeed for my clients;  to listen to them;  to solve their problems;  to anticipate their needs;  to care for them personally and professionally.”

And this person would have been driven to prospect endlessly for new people to serve … day after day … week after week … month after month.

And I can tell all of this by the way this person handled my rejection.

Mostly, she wanted to make sure that her relationship with me stayed intact.  And she didn’t say this in a weird, clingy, Fatal Attraction sort of way.  She was professional and thanked me for my time (which is valuable) and my interest (which was sincere).  She then asked me for my assessment of two other offers she is considering.  From the moment I finished rejecting her, the rest of our call took forty-five minutes.  We plan to have lunch again next week, and I’m proud to say I have a new friend.

I’m also sad to report that I’m a complete jackass for missing the boat on her.

One of the things I’m learning about running a service business is that if I hire recruiters who are too money motivated, they will be too transactional in their dealings with clients.  We’ve all had unpleasant dealings with pushy recruiters.  Great recruiters must be “other focused.”

By the same token, great recruiters must be driven to prospect for new candidates and clients to serve — often by cold calling.  I’m not ashamed to say that I am a total ninja badass when it comes to making friends on the phone, mostly because I don’t hear rejection.  It’s like being tone deaf or color blind.  Show me a recruiter who fears rejection and I’ll show you a total failure.

This candidate had both traits.  Being a recruiter, you’d think I would have known that.

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