Godfather 2. Terminator 2. And this blog post.
I empathize with any hiring manager or exec hiring for something totally new. You don’t know what you’re doing. Because you’ve never done it before.
Yet everyone around you – your team, your boss, job seekers, and anyone on the outside – still expect you to have your sh*t together.
In hiring, this presents as the symptoms we all find annoying: Indecisiveness. Long interview processes. Changing requirements. Qualified people getting passed over.
And of course the worst of all: the wrong hire.
I wrote about this last year when we knocked it out of the park hiring our first product marketer, Brian Heil. (Link here.)
But I left out a couple critical things. And they don’t just apply to first time skill hires, but anytime you’re trying to “do more with less.” (Like when you have a tight budget. Need to get a lot done. But also make the right long term strategic hiring decision. Yes, I’m talking to damn near everyone right now.)
So, those 2 mistakes:
1. Hiring a specialist when you really need a generalist.
When you’ve literally never done some area within your business before, it’s easy to identify the gap areas that you’re aware of. But damn near impossible to identify the ones you’re not.
Trust me. It’ll be a lot.
In our case, we knew we needed a product marketer. But we didn’t know we needed a website launch project manager. A sales enablement person. A strong copywriter. A Hubspot configurator. A former client-facing salesperson. And a meme lord.
We looked at people who were specialized 100% in product marketing only. We wouldn’t have accomplished half a much as we did.
2. Hiring junior when you really need an experienced strategist.
Different example. A lot of you may nod your heads to this one: companies hiring their first ever internal recruiter and going junior. Seen this more times that I can count.
Common executive/owner mindset: recruiting is easy. Get someone junior (and cheap) who can grow into the role.
Then reality hits. Turns out recruiting niche talent in unrelated skill sets (like software engineers accountants, and demand gen marketers) is really hard for 1 person. Especially a junior recruiter. At scale.
So they end up hiring more recruiters and/or using way more agency help than they should. (Not that I’m complaining.) While having no strategic leader to put it all together.
This kind of leader who could have built a plan from the beginning. Filling everything faster and cheaper.
Don’t get me wrong: I love the idea of letting people grow into a role. But when it’s your first hire…who’s going to develop them anyway?