I’ll Take the Rainbow Princess

Last week I met my niece Lauren and her two daughters, Julia (5) and Abby (3) for a “goodbye” lunch. Happily for Lauren, but sadly for me, she is moving her family to Denver to take a promotion and new position with her company. They will love it there and I will miss them here.

The girls were busy coloring while Lauren and I were busy talking (and toasting!) about her new job. Abby was especially happy as she proudly handed me a picture of a Disney princess (don’t ask me which one) colored with pastel crayons in a curved design like a rainbow. Abby didn’t even think about staying inside the lines. “Oh,” I said, “A Rainbow Princess!” “Yes,” she happily replied, “for your refrigerator-for you to remember me.”

I absolutely love how creative kids are. I’m constantly amazed at how unconstrained they seem to be. I wonder why the older we get, we seem to be more constrained in so many ways and lose our sense of creativity that came so easily when we were young.


You can get around today’s tight labor market if you, too, are willing to “color outside the lines” and consider candidates who may not fit your traditional requirements.

Here are two very important elements to consider as you rev up your creative :

  • Experience: Requirements vs. Relevance

I’m amazed at how much this one requirement, experience, can eliminate so many viable candidates from consideration. Quite frankly, I think experience can sometimes be highly over-rated and too heavily used as a factor for hiring. For example, I have seen managers hire someone who has prior experience in their industry and yet their hires have failed- miserably! Conversely, I have seen managers hire people who have absolutely no experience in their industry and little experience for the position they are hired for, who have succeeded – tremendously!

What you do need is someone who has some relevant experience that can be of real value. For example, hiring a customer service rep for a sales position is a natural. Some of the best salespeople I know came from a customer service background. One of the absolute best placements I ever made was a teacher who transitioned into a salesperson. In all her years with my client, she was a consistent top producer and earner. Why? Because teachers are really good listeners and good communicators – two hallmarks of great salespeople. So, look for that relevant experience.

(The one exception where it’s hard to be flexible is when you need a highly technical person with specific technical skills. For example, if your company sells to engineers, your salespeople may require an engineering degree just to start the sales process.)

  • Look for Values and Behavior

I could tell you lots of anecdotal stories about people who had no prior experience when they were hired, yet went on to become very successful. I’ve seen it in my 25 years of recruiting (as of March 23rd – but who’s counting?).

The one thing that these successful people had in common was a hiring manager who was willing to take a chance on them. These hiring managers were not afraid of risk. They are down-right creative in their hiring.

Here are two ways that you can get down-right creative, too:

  • Look for a candidate’s VALUES. Ask interview questions that help you identify who the person in front of you really is. Try to determine how smart they are and how hard-working they will be and how dedicated they are to succeeding.
  • Look for BEHAVIORS that the candidate has demonstrated in the past that will give you a clue about how they will perform. For example, inquire about a time the candidate took on more responsibility than was required; ask them to identify a time when they were innovative in their approach to their job; and ask for examples of where the candidate was striving to constantly improve their job and performance.

My “Rainbow Princess” picture is pinned to the bulletin board in my office. Every day she makes me smile thinking about Abby, and thinking about how I love coaxing my clients into their “creative zones.”

Posted in Hiring Process

New Hip Hooray!

My husband has gone through more airport security scanners than any other person I know. He spent his career traveling the globe and now that he’s retired, that hasn’t changed too much. Only now, the wands will be waving and the bells will be ringing to tell the world […] Continue Reading…

Posted in Finding Great Employees/Recruiting

Some Assembly Required

Lots of things happened in 2004. The final episode of Friends aired on NBC; Ronald Reagan died at the age of 93; a little company named Facebook was launched in Cambridge.

And, the newsletter below was published in December of that year. It remains one of my personal favorites, as […] Continue Reading…

Posted in Finding Great Employees/Recruiting

Baby, You Can’t Drive My Car


I test drove a car last week. I loved it! It had everything I’m looking for – a high performance engine, good gas mileage, all the tech gadgetry you could ever want and it’s small – like me!

I bought the car this week. But, sadly, not from the […] Continue Reading…

Posted in Sales Topics


When an employee leaves unexpectedly, especially one that you particularly like and who has been doing a good job, it’s easy for a manager to view hiring a replacement as an un-pleasurable, possibly daunting, task. Someone you like must be replaced, you wonder if you’ll ever get an employee […] Continue Reading…

Posted in Finding Great Employees/Recruiting, Hiring Process

4 Tips to Quickly Qualify Candidates


Years ago, when I told my now 98-year-old mother that I was headed up to Maine for a few weeks of vacation, she sweetly asked me, “Who does your job when you go on vacation?” My mother is a child of the Great Depression, a World […] Continue Reading…

Posted in Finding Great Employees/Recruiting

Can You Fire Like George Clooney

I love George Clooney. He’s charming, debonair, handsome, smart and, oh yes, a good actor too. That is apparent in spades, especially when his role is the total opposite of charming George. In the 2009 film “Up in the Air,” George plays […] Continue Reading…

Posted in Additional Topics

Four Ways to Spot a Diamond in the Rough

Whether you’re hiring someone for a senior, strategic position or for the lowest level position in your company, there is always an element of uncertainty when you make that final decision about who gets the job. You make that decision based on their past experiences, […] Continue Reading…

Posted in Finding Great Employees/Recruiting

Eating Salad with a Spoon

A while ago I found myself forced to eat my lunch salad with a spoon. Have you ever tried to eat salad with a spoon? Probably not, I’m sure. But, if you did try, you’d see it’s pretty damn hard to do! Salad falls off a spoon. You need […] Continue Reading…

Posted in Finding Great Employees/Recruiting

You Can’t Always Get What You Want

In the summer of 2000, a Boston-based, $240,000,000 software technology company was looking for a Regional Sales Director. They were a “hot” local company with a very good reputation for their products and their company culture. But, the market for top software talent was not great and they were […] Continue Reading…

Posted in Finding Great Employees/Recruiting