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November 11, 2011

Jack Covert Selects: Jack Covert Selects - The Rare Find

By: Dylan Schleicher @ 4:09 AM – Filed under: Management & Workplace Culture


The Rare Find: Spotting Exceptional Talent Before Everyone Else by George Anders, Portfolio, 276 pages, $26.95, Hardcover, October 2011, ISBN 9781591844259
There are many situations in which you want to make the right choice, a choice that might change your lives in hugely positive ways. Consider standing before a roulette wheel in Las Vegas: you choose “18 Red” for a variety of reasons that have all sorts of associative data you apply to it. Red is exciting; #1 is a symbol of success; the 8 represents the infinity symbol; maybe 18 is the age of your daughter. If you’ve made the right choice based on these influences, the payout will be high.

Now consider hiring someone for a position in your company. You look at a candidate’s resume and study the provided data: where they’ve recently worked, what they did there, how long they did it, where they went to school, what grades they received. It all looks good, so that candidate gets the job. While gambling and hiring seem quite dissimilar, the risks in each scenario are similar. And if you’ve made the right choice, the payout could be high in this case, too.

But which approach to decision-making seems more valid? The associative data or the concrete facts? The facts, right? Well, in The Rare Find, George Anders argues intelligently that these two examples might be equally meaningful in what they reveal. Hiring is just a good guess, and even the “facts” aren’t very illuminative. Even if a candidate spent five years at a successful company and graduated Ivy League, it doesn’t mean they’ll fit your culture or excel in the position you have to offer.

To get the best fit, Anders advises you look for a candidate’s character not through employee or education experience, but through their alternative interests. Perhaps a candidate has a jagged work history, perhaps they don’t have any glaring success stories. Anders says don’t overlook these candidates. Read resumes from the bottom up, Anders suggests, and look for hints as to “why” the person did what they did, not just the fact that they did it. Oftentimes, he surmises, you’ll discover hidden talents that can be useful to your organization and the tasks you need completed—and potentially avoid candidates who just “look good on paper.”

While some might regard this approach as a gamble, The Rare Find will counsel you on just why this approach is less of a risk, and will help you make better decisions in finding true talent to help your organization grow.

About Dylan Schleicher


Dylan Schleicher has been a part of the 800-CEO-READ claque since 2003. Even though he's stayed on at the company, he has not stayed put. After beginning in shipping & receiving, he joined customer service and accounting before moving into his current, highly elliptical orbit of duties overseeing the ChangeThis and In the Books websites, the company's annual review of books and in-house design. He lives with his wife and two children in the Washington Heights neighborhood on Milwaukee's West Side.