Six Steps To Hiring A Great Stakeholder

…and on the seventh step, they rested.

We’re 75% of the way through the process of hiring our Chief Connecting Officer (they’re too important to be called a sales person) and only now have we asked for resumes, what we call “tombstones”. We have six things we look at, in order, and looking at the resume early on is not one of them.

People only put on their resumes what makes them look great. Resumes, like tombstones, tell you almost nothing about the real person. If we had looked at tombstones first, we would have tossed out at least five of the seven candidates remaining, maybe all seven, and never looked at them. What a tragedy that would have been. These are great people and a great fit for our business.

Six Steps To The Right Person – In Order Of Importance
Step One – Culture. We hire first for culture. That is the number one criteria. We asked people to NOT send their resume and simply answer seven culture questions.

Doing this cuts down the response “noise” by 80%. Too many are looking for a job, but not for work (the Industrial Age taught them to do this – see this blog post). Answering questions resembles work. Most will just sling fancy tombstones at lazy companies who will hire them for their nicely engraved epitaphs. That’s a nice culture match, too, because the lazy companies who don’t want to do the hard work to hire someone, end up with the lazy applicants who don’t want to work. So everybody wins.

Step Two – Talent. For this position we prize the talent of being able to “connect” with someone quickly via phone or in a personal conversation, so our first talent assessment was a 10 minute phone call to see if they could connect with us. For a different position requiring different skills, we would do a different talent test. Culture and talent are not things you can teach someone. If they have these things, that’s a great foundation.

Step Three – Skills. We’ll take a person who has the intangibles (culture/talent) and teach them the tangibles (skills). This is the step at which we finally ask for their resume, and a list of references. We find their skills from a combination of the other steps above, their resume and their references.

Step Four – References. Never hire anyone for a sales position until you’ve talked to people that have actually bought from them. That is the best way to find out if their skill set is schmoozing, glad-handing, managing sales people, account management (a cousin to sales), or actually selling stuff. Find out what their references say about why they like them, and see if it matches with why you want to hire them. Again, they might have a list of very impressive skills, but if you’re hiring for something not on their list, don’t bite.

Step Five – Experience. Most people look at the resume first and sift for those with the most experience. Bad idea. The fifth thing we hire for is experience and we just don’t give it a lot of weight. Highly experienced people can actually be less likely to learn our particular business. We don’t ding them for it, but it’s not very important to us compared to culture, talent, skills and references.

Step Six – Personal Interviews. Very important. We’ll have the final three or so do 30-45 minute interviews with everyone they will work with in any way. We’ll also ask them to attend some events, then we’ll get feedback from attendees. We’ll also probably take the last couple out for happy hour or something on separate nights to see how we all relate away from the office (we don’t separate work and play). We will likely have them meet with a few existing clients as well and get their feedback.

Never Go To Step Seven!
Can you see something missing from the list? We NEVER hire for education. It’s about as good an indicator of success as what town you were born in. We just ignore education, but if someone makes a big deal out of theirs – that’s a warning sign for us. The more they like to trumpet their education, the more we’re pretty sure they won’t do real well in the trenches where you actually get dirty and learn the good stuff by getting beat up. It also tells us they’ve probably bought off on the lie that the more education you have, the more capable you’ll be, and the more money you will be worth, etc. All fairy tales.

Does This Sound Like Too Much Work?
If this whole process sounds like too much work for you, you need to look at your own culture. You get what you intend, not what you hope for. If you hope to get a great person by doing the traditional, lazy, sit-across-the-table conversation based on a tombstone, then don’t expect to get great people on board. I personally feel the same about farming this process out to someone else to do for you. Any HR pro should have you in the process up to your teeth; it’s your culture and company, not theirs. If you take the lazy traditional approach, you’re process will attract the lazy applicants who are slinging tombstones. Good luck with that.

The good news is we’ve got seven incredible people still in the running (and even some others we dropped earlier that would be great fits elsewhere). The bad news is we’ll have to pick one. The good news is we’ll have a bunch of people to refer to others looking for great sales people.

Anybody need some great sales people? In a few weeks we’ll have some to share. We’ll only share them with companies we already know that have great cultures.

We had dozens of employees quit last week…


To make sure we never hired another employee (employees and resumes are both bad Industrial Age ideas), we created a hiring process that makes employees quit before you hire them.

About 18 months ago I wrote a blog on hiring our Chief Results Officer. She and I are now hiring a Chief Supporting Officer, so she can focus more on growing our national and international speaking opportunities.

The Industrial Age gave us employees. We think the Industrial Age should have kept them; we’re not interested. Why?

Employees are stupid, like an ox
The concept of an “employee” largely came from the work of Frederick Winslow Taylor in 1903. “Employee” and “manager” didn’t much exist before his work. Taylor started with an unbelievable assumption. He said an employee is “so stupid that he more nearly resembles the ox than any other type.” When you’re that stupid, the only hope is to create “managers” who are smart enough to control every movement of the employee. Welcome to modern management theory. Really quite amazing that we’ve created an entire business culture on this nonsense.

Employees vs. Adults
With that backdrop for the whole concept, it is no wonder that employees are essentially children who are to be managed and told exactly what to do, where to be, how to perform, how to think, etc. It’s degrading, but “employee” has become synonymous with “child”. The Industrial Age can keep her children – here’s our process for hiring adults. It makes Industrial Age children/employees quit before we ever hire them. We were able to filter dozens of people out before we even saw a resume and easily a hundred others quit the process right after reading our ad.

Never Get Recommendations
At least not directly. If your best clients/friends/employees/neighbors send you people directly, you end up doing a lot of “courtesy interviews” with people you know aren’t what you’re looking for. We sent an email to everyone we know asking them to refer people directly to our Craigslist ad. If they’re good, they’ll show up at the end of the process and you won’t waste time being political.

Never meet people until you’re down to just a few – meeting people personally up front will color your view of how they might fit. There’s a much better way.

The Five-Step Process
Step One – Culture – Never hire for skills. Skills can be taught, culture (beliefs, principles, view of the world) cannot. We did a five-page ad that focused mostly on who we are and our culture, described the work sufficiently, and asked them to answer seven culture/value based questions. Buried in the middle of the ad was “please do not send us your resume”. We were looking for someone highly detailed, so that was a great way to get started. We deleted dozens of emails with resumes in them without even looking.

Step Two – Talent – After finding a few dozen people we thought were great culture fits, we tested for talent. Like Culture, Talent is largely innate (skills can be taught). Hire for Culture first, then Talent. Talents required for our position are high attention to detail, a sense of urgency, and the ability to work under pressure, so we sent them three assignments to complete in a limited amount of time, including finding errors, solving problems, formatting docs, etc. This caused a few more “employees” to quit and not return the work – they were looking for a job and we had the audacity to see if they wanted to work, too.

Step Three – Skills & Experience (Resume) – Once we had it down to a little over a dozen, we asked them to send us their resumes, which we call obituaries – a highlight reel full of glowing history about the best things people did in the past. We quickly scanned their stated skills & experience for any big issues, then scheduled interviews. Don’t ever look at a resume any earlier than this – it will mess with your judgment.

Step Four – Intangibles (Interview) – Tomorrow we’ll give each of the eight a 15 minute interview and meet them for the first time. We had already formed strong opinions based on the things we’ll actually have them do, and their culture match with us. This first interview is to help us intuitively and quickly see which ones we can enjoy being around daily for years to come.

Step Five – Confirmation Interview(s) – we’ll cut it down to three and have them meet with various people in our business to reconfirm the culture match. It’s the most important thing.

Seven Great Adults for Hire
The eight people we’ve never met are all rock stars. They’ve already proven it. We can’t possibly miss. We’re looking forward to bringing on one for a wild ride and wish we could do it with all eight. If anyone needs seven great adults in their business, please contact us.