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Jun 3, 2019

Every year I think I see at least a hundred similar articles online: SOFT SKILLS MATTER! You need to recruit candidates that have “them.” They make organizations run smoother, etc.

It’s rather hard to use soft skills as criteria while sourcing, so we usually use hard skills as our keywords. This is something more than obvious, regardless of a branch, that one might want to filter candidates based on seniority level, position name, spoken languages, certificates, IT skills, achievements, and so on.

What surprised me is how rarely sourcers, recruiters, managers ask themselves a question, Who might want to have this job?

In other words, what psychological setup, and what attitude to the world. A caustic observer could point out that this criterion is hardly a criterion at all, like soft skills, and it’s hard to input this into your ATS system. But in time, this question became one of the first I ask myself before I start to plan my sourcing strategy.

This saves me from a particular trap. Not every person with the perfect skills is in a position to be into the job we propose. And you know that in our job, we need to shave precious time by not talking to dead-end low-potential candidates. We are there to pick and choose.

To the point, how do we conceptualize the desires of a person that we know from a glance at a LinkedIn profile? You are going to need a model, a simplification of reality that will be adequately accurate and informative. As such a simple starting point you can even take a look at the famed Maslow pyramid.

Despite its hierarchical look, it is still only an approximation. Person A and person B will have opposed values ascribed to different needs. One may prefer to indulge in earthly pleasures of eating and drinking to keep them content, which will crowd out the need for self-actualization. The other way around, a fully self-aware Buddhist monk may neglect his bodily needs. What this illustrates is that people of different walks of life will want different things. A new father will rarely jump ship from an established corporation with an encyclopedia of benefits to a dynamic, but volatile startup.

So what needs that particular job do you think will provide for? What values in life do you need to have to live, for example, a dynamic and highly engaging startup on a competitive market? What do you need to have in your head to strive as the head of a slow-moving, massive IT project for a public entity?

The Beer Question

If you find it challenging to discover what are selling points of the new job offer that you’ll be working on, ask your client this question:

“Imagine you’re at the bar with your friend, lazy Friday evening, you’re drinking a beer, what would you say if they asked, “why do you like your job?”

People quickly open up and start telling you what keeps them happy and motivated at work.

How do you use this criterion?

Once you define the persona, use your empathy. Where would I socialize if I was that person? What my needs make likelier that I will enjoy? This is why many psychologists make excellent recruiters. They are taught to dig deeper into your real motivations for a particular behavior.

Finally, find them. The internet gives us ample possibilities to create communities and hang out. We have Meetup, Slack, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, online and offline meetings. Find the place, read what people talk about and use it as keywords. Good luck!

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