I have a theory about this “War for Talent.” We are fighting the wrong war—here’s why. Our obsession with the acquisition of top talent has us showing up like a bad Tinder profile with airbrushed glamour shots that hide all our flaws.
If you go back to 2001, when McKinsey & Company published their book “The War for Talent,” you can see they got it wrong from the very beginning. Their Darwinian “up or out” approach just scared the crap out of employees and turned company cultures into battlegrounds. Even Malcolm Gladwell called their book BS.
Marcus Buckingham, aka my “boyfriend,” has a different take on this. He believes that the real “talent war” is not in finding talent, rather it is in keeping talent. I agree with this, but the fact remains that you still have to be “baller” at sourcing, vetting, and hiring top talent.
Radical Candor in the Interview Process
I hear this term, radical candor, being thrown around these days as if it were some revolutionary new concept, which just BLOWS MY MIND because we are basically admitting that we only now finally decided to be honest. Think about what the interview process would look like if we just told the truth about the worst parts of our company.
Personally, I love this idea because I have a habit—good or bad—of always telling the truth, and I have to warn people about this because if you ask me whether your butt looks fat in those pants, I will tell you the truth (and sometimes the truth hurts).
Our desperate quest for hitting talent hiring metrics is making liars out of all of us. We have sacrificed authenticity for facades and fairytales that just are not real. Well, guess what? The truth always tells itself, and at the end of the day you are left standing in the wreckage of a damaged employer brand and plummeting retention metrics.
My role in the interview process is to be the “BS detector.” There is a point in every interview when I dive into what I call the “Top 10 reasons why you might NOT want to work here.”
In that spirit of transparency, I thought I would share this list with you today. Now, I understand if it makes you cringe to think about taking this “warts and all” approach to wooing top talent, but I encourage you to give it a try—if nothing else, it can be quite cathartic.
Why You Might NOT Want to Work Here
Okay, so here it is. My current Top Ten list.
1. We have grown from seven to 75 people over the past six years, and at times it can feel like kind of a mess. Growth is hard, and it takes a special kind of tenacity to survive. Wimps need not apply. Not kidding, really—please don’t apply.
2. The work we do becomes more complex every year, and to be honest, people can’t always keep up and we do lose people as the bar rises. I am convinced that one day I am going to show up for work only to realize I am not smart enough to work here anymore.
3. We are not fancy. It is quite the opposite, actually, so you may not get the ROI expected from the designer clothes in your closet. It definitely makes it easier to stretch out on a couch to do your work, but if you don’t like jeans, you will hate it here.
4. We kind of suck at training, so we have to hire super-smart people who know how to find the answers they need. While we are making incremental improvements in this area, I’m not gonna lie—there is no training manual. It would be outdated in like 20 minutes anyway, so really, what is the point?
5. Our office is located in the Pyramids in Indianapolis. Sure, the architecture is cool, but the buildings sort of suck. The elevators are slow and unpredictable, the roof leaks, and the sound of melting snow and ice cascading down the side of the building all winter is truly terrifying.
6. People here take kickball way too seriously, so if you hate sports or competition, this is really not the place for you. I’m not even kidding…we have only lost one game in four years and you would have thought the world ended that day. And the elephant mascot? Don’t even get me started with him.
7. We have all kinds of snacks and drinks in the office, but most have zero nutritional value and collectively we drink too much beer. The upside is there is a very mediocre gym in the basement you can use for free. Eat too many goldfish? Go run a mile.
8. We have an open-concept office, so you have zero privacy and people distract you all day long. Even if you don’t have ADD when you come here, it’s practically guaranteed that you will have it by your 90-day review. We do have a few phone booths you can hide in if you don’t suffer from claustrophobia.
9. We swear. A lot. Well, I swear a lot, but others seem to follow suit. I respect that swearing may be offensive to some people so I make sure I throw in a few during the interview process for good measure. Doesn’t work for you? I totally get it—then don’t f**king work here. Sorry.
10. Our processes for getting things done, while ever improving, are mediocre at best, they can be fairly frustrating, and things that should be easy are sometimes very hard. It makes you want to punch a wall. Which explains the beer and the swearing.
Don’t Be a Liar. Own Your Flaws
Does it work? I don’t know, I’m not sure I have had anyone cut and run after this list, but I do know I have very few surprises. We ALL have a top 10 list like this one, probably somewhere in our heads. So, I challenge you to go make yours. It’s about time that we offered the same “radical candor” courtesy to our candidates that we expect from them.
Karen originally presented this list of reasons why you shouldn’t work here at DisruptHR Indianapolis. She encourages you to tune in next time, when she presents her top 10 reasons why preparing for this presentation really sucked.
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