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Why I Like Candidates Who Have Worked In Hell...

Dateline: Interstate 20, en-route from Birmingham to Atlanta.

Spotted:  Sign for the Exit to Anniston/Oxford. Anniston Weapsons Depot Exit

Memory Triggered:  When a credible candidate has worked in an absolute hell-hole where no one likes them, their organization or what they represent, guess what?  They're probably going to kick #$$ in your company, because your piddly little troubles and drama actually look appealing to them.   They're battle tested. They've been in the depths of hell, and your company's not hell - it's just El Paso in the summer.

Background: I used to be a Regional VP for Charter Communications, a major cable company that was founded by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen.  No one likes the cable company, and for candidates who have to work in jobs interacting with the public in a cable company, they need to prepare for....the venom.  Wearing the company shirt in the grocery store?  You're going to hear about the unburied cable drop or the terrible service story.  Comes with the territory.

It just so happened that I had to hire a peer on the leadership team to be our Director of Government Relations (PR, city councils, etc.).  After a long search, I found our candidate - a guy who had actually been the PR director for a chemical weapons incinerator in Anniston, AL.  Think about that for a second - a facility near a heavily populated area that was charged with destroying a stockpile of chemical weapons over time.  If a small cloud comes out of that facility, it probably kills 1,000 people.  In your backyard.  My candidate's job was to tell everyone it was going to work out.  To position the potential death facility as a jobs creator.

Wow.  Anyway, the selling point of the candidate during the process was that "if I can take the heat required to calm people down related to mustard gas and other crazy weapons that do god knows what in their backyard, I can probably calm people down about cable".

Working in hell creates transferable skills.  And if you see a yellow cloud emerge from the factory, please get in your car and turn on the air conditioner.  That should take care of it.

Comments

Michelle

Love this post! It is so very true. Want hire a great candidate? Look for someone thriving at their discipline in an organization where you think it would be hardest. Great advice KD.

Lori

Oh my lord, I loved this post. Thanks for expanding my viewpoint, KD.

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