Sometimes You Should Choose an Athlete by Paul Taccini 

Invariably in business we are faced with the continuing need to fill open staff positions.  Employees are promoted, demoted, reassigned or choose to leave.  When this occurs, there are a variety of options open to us.  Filling an open position requires a process to be followed whether you are working with a Human Resources department or filling the position on your own. 

One of the first things to be done is review the departmental organization. Does it need to be improved? Next, check the current position description if it exists.  Determine whether it accurately describes what the job should be not what is currently being done.  If there isn’t a job description, create one.  In many companies, a job requisition would now be sent to Human Resources detailing the key requirements for this position and might cover some unique, desirable attributes.  Before meeting with any applicants, carefully prepare a criterion which can be used to compare candidates.  You are now at one of the more critical points in recruiting.  Are you looking for a trained performer or an athlete? 

There are many reasons why you may be inclined to hire a trained performer.  These individuals can step in and begin to be productive faster.  Their learning curve will be shorter as they will only need to gain an understanding of the company and its practices, not the job.  And, there are times when this is the only option.  It may be the easiest and most expeditious solution, but in the long term it isn’t the always best solution. 

If you have the luxury of a little time and some flexibility, I suggest that you consider looking for an athlete.  These are individuals have all the basic qualifications but may not have the specific experience you have outlined.  Depending on the position level, they might even be a relatively recent graduate.  In this instance, you are looking for someone who could grow far beyond this position.  Be open to the possibilities. 

In a past life, I was responsible for assembling a product management group where none existed.  To do this, I had to define the position descriptions and find two individuals to fit newly identified roles.  One individual already on board filling another position, but the other required an outside candidate.  Human resources presented several individuals who fit the requirements.  It was fairly easy to choose a trained product manager, but I was presented with a unique opportunity.  One of the resumes received was from a recent business school grad.  He had an excellent background and some unique attributes.  We couldn’t let this person get away.  We rearranged the two product groups into three.  We hired this individual to manage the smallest product group.  After gaining a comfort level with his assignment, he became the most creative and successful manager in the group.   His career has been a series of successes.   

Hiring an athlete carries more risk and it isn’t for every situation, but if the opportunity presents itself, consider choosing the athlete. 

Senior Business Consultants, LLC