Playing to Strengths, Part 5: Recruiting Your Weakness(es)

23 Mar
English: Uncle Sam recruiting poster.

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We’re continuing in our Saturday leadership series on Playing to Strengths.  Today, we’re going to assume you’ve done your homework and have identified specifically what you’re looking for on your team.  So how do you go about filling that position?

I don’t know about you, but I cringe every time I see the following scenario, especially in a church setting.

There’s an opening in your organization.  Maybe it’s a new requirement or a replacement for an existing role.  If we want to use our previous example in this series, let’s say we need someone who can generate and track a budget for a non-profit organization… and we can’t pay them.  It has to be a volunteer.

In an effort to be expedient, an announcement goes out to the whole organization, “We’re looking for someone… we have an opportunity… etc.”  You’ve heard it before.

And I cringe.  Why?

Right vs. Quick

Here’s the interesting part.  I didn’t use to cringe.  I used to think that was normal, and expedient.  It gives everyone a chance to participate in the life of the organization… right?

But experience is a great teacher… and it’s experience that makes me cringe.

I have been on the receiving end of someone who responds, but really isn’t qualified.  We filled the position quickly, but it wasn’t a good fit.  And the organization suffered.

That’s the reason I now ask, “Would we rather fill this position quick… or fill it right?”

Before you scrap the approach of the general appeal, realize that it may still have merit.  There are some jobs that pretty much anyone can do.  Need someone to help mow the grass around the building?  OK.  But, do you need someone to generate and track that budget?  There’s a better way.

Recruiting versus Advertising

This is a distinction I now make, especially in the church setting.  I used to get frustrated that we would advertise needs in the church bulletin, and no one would respond.

I learned a couple of valuable lessons.

  • If everyone is asked, everyone will assume that someone will do the job… which means no one will
  • If you need a specialized skill, you need to shift from advertising to recruiting

A church bulletin, a non-profit newsletter, or a general announcement are advertising.  It’s making people aware of a need.  The problem is… it’s not recruiting.  The irony is… we get frustrated by not filling positions, but we have never recruited.

So… what does recruiting look like?


Recruiting is much more focused and personal.  If you have done your homework, you know exactly what your looking for.  This significantly narrows your pool of choices and allows you to approach people directly.

Recruiting has a hierarchy (at least in my book).  It looks like this:

  1. Face to Face
  2. Phone
  3. Email

Recruiting emphasizes the individual, and gives the opportunity to paint a compelling vision that ties the individual to something bigger than themselves.  It encourages exchange of information, and it answers questions and concerns that no general announcement (aka, “advertisment”) can answer.

Bottom line: Recruiting is personal.

The 3 C’s of Recruiting

Recruiting also allows you to get a sense of the intangibles.  A resume will show you competence… but time together will show you character.

In fact, there are some who recommend that future employees and/or key team members be interviewed with the people they’ll be working with (at least for part of the interview).  Why?  Because no matter how competent, if people can’t work together, it may not be the right fit.

In essence, we are testing Chemistry.

This is not about getting everyone together to sing “Kum-ba-yah,” it’s about healthy interaction.  When there’s a potential hot-button issue, can this person:

  • Voice an opinion in a healthy, constructive manner?
  • Put the good of the team ahead of their personal pride?
  • Resolve conflict in a way that leaves the organization stronger?

And there you have it… the 3 C’s of Recruiting:

  1. Competence
  2. Character
  3. Chemistry

The Process

You may be thinking, how can you possibly do all that in one interview?  The simple answer?  You probably can’t!  So here are some options to consider:

  • A call-back interview (or two)
  • A probationary period (a time where leadership tests out whether the person fits)
  • A “graceful exit” clause (a time where the person tests out whether the organization fits and is free to leave with no strings, and no hard feelings)

In a volunteer setting, you may purposefully build in “graceful exit clauses.”  For example, you think you have found that budget tracking person.  Instead of calling it a done deal, what if you asked them to create and track a budget for a 90 day trial period?

And be clear about the purpose of the 90 days.  If, at the end of the 90 days, either you (the organization) or the individual don’t think this is a good fit, then both will move on with no hard feelings.  And we can find another place for that individual to lend their talents.

(This approach works great with many church positions… teachers, small group leaders, all kinds of teams!).

Does it create more possible turnover?  Yes

Does it take more time?  Yes

Is it worth all that effort?  You’ll have to decide for yourself, but I whole-heartedly say YES!

If you’ve ever experienced that magic blend of competence, character, and chemistry, you’ll never want to settle for anything less.

And the best way to find that?  Recruit… don’t advertise!

Happy recruiting!

How do you ensure the right fit for your team?  What other techniques or resources can you share to help others find the right fit?

Comments Off on Playing to Strengths, Part 5: Recruiting Your Weakness(es)

Posted by on March 23, 2013 in Leadership


Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: