Take the Fear out of Hiring – Using Purpose as a Tool

by Lisa Sears

Sometimes I help businesses hire people.  I am not a recruiter and I don’t focus on resumes or candidate when I start my work. 

I focus on needs of the organization, building a preliminary playbook for the role and an onboarding plan including a 90- day review.  That’s usually enough joint work with the business owner to create a trusting relationship. I am not a traditional interviewer so trust is certainly required.

Having a hiring and onboarding plan takes the initial anxiety and pressure out of the hiring process. I encourage managers to provide me with 5 candidates that model some of the following:

  • interesting resume or background in another industry but applied anyway
  • an employment gap with an originally impressive skillset
  • look good on paper with skills that are perfect for the position
  • someone from a personal reference with a great disposition
  • I also ask them to give me a wild card that had the best cover letter story

When I conduct initial online interviews I take a lot of the burden and bias off of the leader.  It takes the emotions out of the hire for the hiring manager.  I position my role during the interview as a hiring consultant. I summarize our interviews and make recommendations for advancing through the process; and sometimes I even have the final say. I am very transparent and encouraging to the candidates and emphasize the importance of role fit for both employer and employee.

I want them to be comfortable. I want to learn about who they really are.

Soft skills are really important when it comes to hiring.  You can have the best accountant, but if they a bad fit for your team or the role you end up wishing you had hired the really engaging bookkeeper and created a learning track instead.  Hard skills are also important, don’t get me wrong, but if you find people that have a true love for engagement and a capability to learn you can then focus on workflow competencies and use purpose to make your hiring choices.

Soft skills are really important when it comes to hiring.  You can have the best accountant, but if they are a bad fit for your team or the role you end up wishing you had hired the really engaging bookkeeper and created a learning track instead.

So what’s purpose? According to Damon, W., Menon, J., & Bronk, K. C. (2003) purpose is the “stable and generalizable intention to accomplish something that is at once meaningful to the self and leads to the productive engagement with some aspect of the world beyond the self.” Your personal purpose is a combination of your strengths (how you shine), your skills (what you do), your passion (what you love) and your individual wisdom (experience) and how they align with your values(Rockind, 2014).

So why is purpose important? Your employees are going to be with your team 8 to 10 hours a day. There are aspects of every role that you’ll want to make sure they can handle, but that is also in line with what drives them as individuals. When I ask the four purpose questions I am able to make better recommendations and my clients make better choices. 

One of my clients laughs about hiring his least favorite candidate. Through the interview I found out she had a passion for finishing projects and felt like she particularly shined when things didn’t go as planned. Although she had no industry experience she was the perfect fit for his customers and his business partner who needed addition project support. His clients and his partner really appreciate her. So does he!

I use purpose for all kinds of things.  I use Carin Rickinds model of purpose to back into role designs, help people make decisions around career choices, build cover letters and practice introductions. Sometimes I even help them get up the courage to talk to their employers about possible role redesigns as an alternative to leaving a company they are loyal to. Most importantly, I use it as a simple filter to help me pick and choose projects I want to work on.

I recently had the pleasure of helping a group of women small business owners narrow their vision and design their leadership role with purpose in mind. In turn they began brainstorming with their employees ways of bringing individual purpose into their culture and workflow in an effort to drive engagement… and their businesses are growing.

What ways can you think to use your own purpose story? Who in your close circle are you most interested in asking about their purpose? What other ways can you use the aspects of purpose to create new energy in a project or group?

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