Sure – it’s hard to hire good people. There are lots of reasons for it. One of them is that we aren’t keying into the talent pool all around us. People in our network. People we meet.
As the founder and manager of two companies, I am constantly looking out for good people. I’m a big believer in the old adage, “Hire for attitude, train for skills,” so maybe I have more options than some of you who seem Hell-bent on doing the exact opposite (you hire for education and registrations and then wonder why people don’t have communication skills/work ethic/personalities!).
My business partner in Zweig Group, Chad Clinehens, is someone I met at a conference. He was young and dynamic and was also a professional engineer. He was also an owner in his firm and very interested in the business of the AEC industry. He also, as it turned out, happened to be from Fayetteville (bizarre coincidence), though he wasn’t living here at the time! Months later we talked on the phone and now we have been working together for nearly four years.
I have always been open about the fact that one reason I teach is to meet smart young people. We have several of my former students here including a fellow who works in our events area and our accounting manager/controller, whom we first hired as an intern while she was in school. Our head of events is a fellow who I also met at the University but who was in a staff job in charge of the business school’s management education outreach center.
Facebook has proved to be a great recruiting tool. We brought on a fellow I met through common interests in old cars and motorcycles. He was a multi-talented guy with a wide range of knowledge about design and construction (in addition to oddball cars and two-stroke motorcycles). We had lunch and I learned that he had a structural concrete company with a partner who wasn’t as interested in growing the business as he was and he was ready for a career shift. He’s thrived in our environment.
We have another fellow working for us who I met when he was working as a waiter in a high-end restaurant. I could see he was a smart guy and over a period of time we struck up a friendship. I gave him and his girlfriend some advice on a house they bought. We talked and I learned he was actually an attorney who graduated near the top of his class. A few years of working in a local law firm gave him a bad taste for the legal profession so he was biding his time trying to figure out what he ultimately wanted to do. We hired him in our recruiting area.
Our new head of IT/electronic marketing is a guy who himself was a founder of a multi-year Inc. 5000 company. I met him through his wife who is a successful mortgage banker in our area who I dealt with in my other business, Mark Zweig, Inc. But we probably wouldn’t have hired him had it not been for a re-introduction from another person here – our newsletter editor – a fellow I first met when he interviewed me for the local business paper.
The point of all this is very simple. Keep your eyes and ears open for the good people who are all around you! They’re there – but maybe you haven’t been seeing them!
Mark Zweig is Zweig Group’s founder and CEO. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.