Do We Still Judge a Book by its Cover?

timtolan Culture, Executive Search, Tim Tolan

IStock_000004854248XSmall Don’t let the title of this post fool you. I’m referring to the way candidates (and people in general) are judged in the recruiting and hiring process. Society places (way) too much attention on how we should look and I’m convinced it has spilled over into the hiring game. In many cases, screening candidates is probably based largely on their visual appearance. It’s sad, but I’m convinced it’s true. I recently wrote a post on the explosion of video in business and in recruiting, and it will be interesting to evaluate the dynamics of how this could change the screening process. I will be watching…

Before you draw any conclusions about the message of this post – please understand that I believe this sort of “judging” also applies to people who are easy on the eyes as well. Image and brand equity should matter to an employer – but that should never be measured by the makeup and physical look of the employee population. Delivering value to my clients means finding the best talent in the land. Plain and simple. Making a hiring decision solely on the visual atrributes of a candidate is a HUGE mistake – and could open up a very large can of worms for the employer.

The bottom line for me is experience, energy level, past performance, success metrics, references, education and a few other attributes matter. Looks are not on my list in evaluating a candidate in our recruiting process – and never will be. Appearance is a different story altogether. I do expect candidates to present themselves in the most professional manner possible and to look sharp in any interview or video session. That’s a different deal.

It’s also interesting to me when a candidate tries to use their “look” to impress a client in hopes that it will influence a successful outcome (an offer). You can (literally) see what’s happening a mile away in the way they dress and how they present themselves in an interview. I’ve experienced this firsthand in my own practice and it’s a huge turn-off. Life’s too short and I’m sorry – not impressed. Nope. I have never been one to judge a book by its cover and instead prefer to just find and hire the best person for the role we are searching for regardless of “the look”.

While beauty may be in the eye of the beholder – talent is not. It is based on lots of other attributes that really matter. Let’s keep it that way. Deal? Deal.

Tim Tolan is a partner at Sanford Rose Associates and specializes in Executive Search in Healthcare IT. He’s a closer, and you really don’t want to call him unless you’re ready to bring out the bazooka to bag some big game. When I started Fistful, I checked four references on Tim – his wife, his kids, his pastor and a client. The references were great, even if it sounded like they were reading from a sheet of paper. I just chalked that up to them being “detail oriented” in their feedback….