I had the good fortune of serving as the chairperson for ERE's Social Recruiting Summit at the Best Buy HQ in Minneapolis on Monday. I'll be posting some thoughts about different speakers, the conference as a whole, and the social scene in general here at the Capitalist and over at Fistful of Talent over the next couple of weeks.
The first ah-ha moment from the conference is pretty simple and has nothing to do with social media. Here's the big thought - the smartest people confirm that the candidate has skills to do the job, then start looking for behaviors and world views that are rare to find in people who can make the biggest difference.
Here's how the topic came up. Our first segment at the Social Recruiting Summit was a panel from Best Buy including some leaders who are really making a difference in driving social strategy at the dominant retailer, including Joshua Kahn, John Bernier, Brian Kohlbeck and Robert Stephens. It's a smart, smart group that tries a lot of stuff, readily admits they don't know everything - but - is curious about everything.
I kicked off the Q&A with the group by asking this general question - "How does everything you're doing with social media influence how you hire? What do you do to ensure you get hires who are capable of using the tools, both the ones we have now and whatever it becomes 5 years from now?
Robert Stephens, founder of the Geek Squad (which he started with $200 as a college student, see his bio here), immediately went to the thoughts of Netscape founder Marc Andreessen and identified Curiosity, Drive and Ethics as the behavioral marks of someone who can make it at Best Buy.
I remembered the post by Andreessen he was referring to and was immediately struck on how important curiosity is in a knowledge economy. Here's what Andreessen wrote a year or two back related to the value of being curious and how it drives so much good stuff for companies that hire for it:
"Curiosity is a proxy for, do you love what you do?
Anyone who loves what they do is inherently intensely curious about their field, their profession, their craft.
They read about it, study it, talk to other people about it... immerse themselves in it, continuously.
And work like hell to stay current in it.
Not because they have to.
But because they love to.
Anyone who isn't curious doesn't love what they do.
And you should be hiring people who love what they do.
As an example, programmers.
Sit a programmer candidate for an Internet company down and ask them about the ten most interesting things happening in Internet software.
REST vs SOAP, the new Facebook API, whether Ruby on Rails is scalable, what do you think of Sun's new Java-based scripting language, Google's widgets API, Amazon S3, etc.
If the candidate loves their field, they'll have informed opinions on many of these topics.
That's what you want.
Now, you might say, Marc, that's great for a young kid who has a lot of spare time to stay current, but what about the guy who has a family and only has time for a day job and can't spend nights and weekends reading blogs and staying that current?
Well, when you run into a person like that who isn't current in their field, the other implication is that their day job isn't keeping them current.
If they've been in that job for a while, then ask yourself, is the kind of person you're looking for really going to have tolerated staying in a day job where their skills and knowledge get stale, for very long?
Damn. Now I remember it all and you should go read the whole post as well. Why wouldn't we work like hell in the interviewing process to figure out if people are curious? Why wouldn't we overweight that as part of the process? Why wouldn't we make that part of the performance management process in a big way?
Curiosity = ability to innovate, ability to change, to be different from the pack.
Relearning that, based off of what the Geek Squad founder said on the fly, was worth the trip to the Social Recruiting Summit alone.
And I've got work to do. Thanks for reminding me of that, Best Buy team and ERE.
Be curious. Don't accept being flat. Don't accept it around you. Don't suck.