Beware of hiring yourself. You may not even be consciously aware of doing it. How can you help yourself? You found the ideal candidate. You went to the same college. You had the same major. You played the same instrument in the marching band. You were in the same sorority. You both binge watch Netflix. You both have the same awkward pose in your LinkedIn profile picture.
You are awesome. They are awesome. Get the offer sheet ready.
But first ask yourself one question. Will a team full of your career clones really give your organization the best chance at success? After all, you’re the quarterback on your team and who couldn’t use another one? Why just imagine a football team that consisted of nothing but quarterbacks! How amazing would that be! As long as there’s no blocking, tackling, kicking, or catching to be done, you would be unstoppable.
It’s not that you aren’t great and all. We’ve already established that you’re awesome. But what if, and this is just an if, you are not equally awesome at everything. Maybe you can sell anything to anyone, anytime, anywhere. But you couldn’t correctly answer what OTIF stands for if your life depended on it.
What do you say we take a moment, step out of the box, and ask ourselves a few more thought-provoking questions?
Filling the Current Gap
Obviously, you have an opening to fill, but have you sat down and really assessed the needs of your team versus your current staff’s capabilities? Is your team missing a skillset or experience that you may not realize? It’s common to look for someone with previous experience selling to a major retailer or someone who has worked in replenishment for a major retailer. Individuals with those backgrounds provide invaluable experience not easily replicated by those who lack it. But there is also great value from experience that may be a step removed from the direct realm of retail merchandising. So much of a company’s success in working with mass retailers is the ability to consistently fill orders on time and in full. A direct understanding of demand planning, manufacturing, warehousing, and transportation are powerful skills to maximize engagement with the key cogs of your internal organization. Having someone in Bentonville that really understands the constraints and strengths of your plants, mixing centers, and transportation department can prove to be priceless. Though the process may vary depending on the type of products your company sells, i.e. National Brands or Private Labels, domestics or imports, and anything from perishables to hardlines, don’t underestimate the importance of someone who can take an idea or a suggestion from your buyer and bring it to fruition of a purchase order in hand.
Upward / Lateral Potential
Does your office/company provide deep career paths in a given function or is it critical to transfer between functions to move a career forward? Does your candidate have the experience and/or aptitude to excel in multiple functions such as sales, supply chain, category management, etc.? Does your situation necessitate that your candidate has to be a jack of all trades?
Can the person you’re hiring be your replacement in one year, five years, or ever? Do they have a demonstrated history of leadership? Do they display traits that are important to you and/or your organization? Do they have a continuous learning mindset and/or the aptitude to grow beyond their current skill sets?
Some of the best professionals with whom I’ve had the pleasure to work in the Retail and CPG industry have come from diverse fields including psychology, biology, and physics. I have a background in supply chain and information technology and I’ll readily admit that I love getting resumes from candidates with education and experience that are similar to my own. But I’ve found that being open to the right people with the right attitude can pay big dividends even if they didn’t major in business or supply chain. So before you hire your Mini Me for your next opening, take a few moments and ponder how a different, but complimentary skill set than your own, might open a host of new opportunities for you and your team.
* Director of Customer Logistics and Systems Improvement, Walmart & Sam’s Club – Bonduelle Fresh Americas (Ready Pac Foods)
*Title and company of the author reflect their position at the time article was written.
The opinions expressed here by guest bloggers are their own, not necessarily those of Stout Executive Search.