If you want to lock in a long-term competitive advantage for your organization, be among the first to read and apply the lessons of George Anders new book “The Rare Find: Spotting Exceptional Talent Before Everyone Else.”
Drawing on vivid examples from the U.S. Army Special Forces, Teach for America, Facebook, Hollywood, and professional sports, he shows how you can see what everyone else is missing in their hiring.
This is no vanity book. He’s not pitching his hiring system, or trying to sell you consulting services. Even better, he is not advocating that you “just do your hiring like we did at GE in the 1980’s.”
No, this book is the real deal. Space does not permit me to cover all my favorite quotes, but here are a few:
“American social norms call for job candidates to tell a story of uninterrupted success. Previous experiences are burnished until they all sound like triumphs. Traditional resumes are set up so that resilience becomes invisible. That’s a horribly unfortunate distortion. At some point fate slams all of us to the ground. What happens next determines who we become. Some people are so bitter or dispirited they never fully recover. Others do whatever it takes to bounce back. The more you can learn about how people handle adversity, the more astutely you can judge them.”
“…we’re in the midst of an enormous economic and technological upheaval that is redefining what it means to be enduringly successful. Long track records my be irrelevant or impossible to find in fields that are taking shape so fast the everyone is a newcomer. Competence is not enough anymore. The difference between growth and stagnation comes down to finding people with bold, fresh approaches, who can create opportunities that no one else saw before. That’s true not just in Silicon Valley, Hollywood or Wall Street; it’s the new norm in almost every field.”
From how to define what kind of person you are looking for, to how you should interview candidates, this book covers the landscape of talent spotting. I found no evidence of vague, sloppy platitudes or lazy thinking. For example:
“Take something as universal … as ‘work ethic.’ That’s a cherished value at almost any top tier organization (but) everyone’s definition of ‘work ethic’ calls for slightly different virtues. Some jobs call for people who can summon up extraordinary stamina and ingenuity in a crisis. Others require orderly souls who are totally comfortable with the tireless preparation for a challenge that may be months or years away. The work ethics of a great doctor and a great football player are not the same. Solving the talent puzzle means looking for exactly the right ethos that’s vital for a particular job–rather than trying to match candidates to a along list of universal virtues that might or might not be especially relevant.”