Who are you looking for?

The James Caird is the 23 foot-(8m-)long whaler in which Sir Ernest Shackleton and five companions made the epic open boat voyage of 800m (l,300 km) from Elephant Island, 500 miles (800 km) south of Cape Horn, to South Georgia during the Antarctic winter of l9l6. Source: http://www.jamescairdsociety.com/

What do your job postings look like?  Do they look anything like this one placed in a British newspaper by Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton, looking to hire crew for his Nimrod expedition to reach the South Pole (he never succeeded):

MEN WANTED FOR HAZARDOUS JOURNEY. LOW WAGES, BITTER COLD, LONG HOURS OF COMPLETE DARKNESS. SAFE RETURN DOUBTFUL. HONOUR AND RECOGNITION IN EVENT OF SUCCESS.

Pretty clear what you’re signing up for, huh?

Everything we do is a function of who is on the bus, the hands we have pulling together towards our common goal.  We may not be attempting to reach the South Pole, but we’re going somewhere important, and we need the right people to get us there.  People who share our values.  People who share our commitment.  People who are there because they are meant to be one of us – we just haven’t found them yet, nor they us.

Yet we punt on the opportunity to state who we are from the get-go.  We write bland, generic job postings, copying and pasting from the one we used last time and the time before that and the time before that.  We say things like “we are looking for self-starters who work well in teams, with strong attention to detail and a collaborative mindset.”

Huh?  It’s the hiring equivalent of mission statement blah-blah-blah: “we deliver excellence to our customers through uncompromising pursuit of top quality and belief in our stated values of trust, performance, and team.”

Please, please, please, stand for something in everything you do – especially in how you hire.  Instead of being afraid of writing something that some people won’t like, make SURE you write something that some people won’t like – because that way you’ll communicate something about who you are and what you stand for to the people who love that edgy, provocative thing you’re communicating.

Say things that only you would say, as a first step towards attracting only the right people to work alongside you for the next five or ten years.  What could be more important?

*                  *                  *                  *                  *

p.s. for those who noticed/didn’t like the two grammatical mistakes in the title of this blog post, I was being ironical.

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3 Responses to Who are you looking for?

  1. Mozart says:

    Powerful! This resonates in hiring people and in how one should go about looking for a company to work with.

  2. Dana says:

    DESPERATELY NEEDED!
    A person with experience in the non-profit world to offer free advise as to how (in their experience) to move a dream from a little community project into the real world. Compensation is paid in the form of extreme appreciation and the knowledge that you have set loose energy that will help diminish poverty as defined as human potential.

  3. That Ernest Schackleton never reached the south pole is a reminder of how difficult it is to surmount obstacles that have never been done before.

    Many enterprises do not dream big enough. And if they do, they often lack clarity that properly define the rigors of the journey. This job posting is about the worst of those rigors.

    “We strive for greatness. But there is large chance you will not come back alive.”

    Anyone that answered this post must have had courage like Ernest Shackleton.

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