One the many hats I wear in my position is that of hiring manager. We are a small but growing start-up, and so we are hire on a fairly constant basis. Before having this role I had never hired anyone, but now it has become critical that I make the right personnel choices. After all, when there are eight people in the entire company, one person can have a massive impact. As a hiring manager, I have found myself faced with one particular question time after time:
Do I hire the person who seems best given the nature of the role, or do I hire the person who has the most talent overall?
Ideally, these two things overlap, but usually they don’t. While there are TONS of intangibles present in a great employee that lie outside of pure talent, here I want to focus on only that trait.
For Your Consideration…a NFL Draft Metaphor
I liken this decision to that of a general manager of a NFL team choosing who to pick first in the draft. Each year around draft time the talking heads debate whether the team in question should choose a player which best fills a particular need (so, if the primary tight end is horrible, should they draft a tight end), or whether they should just take the best player available, regardless of position.
For start-ups in particular, I say take the best player available, regardless of her specific skill set. Here’s why:
The start-up environment is a fluid one, where adaptations must be made quickly. Hiring a person to fill a specific role may end up biting you when that role doesn’t exist a month down the road.
The start-up environment is also one where every single employee can have an impact on the direction of the company as a whole. The talented person you hire may end up creating her own role that is far more valuable then what you were hiring for in the first place.
A mind is a terrible thing to waste, and when you’re a start-up you face stiff competition for those great minds. Scoop them up when you can, even if they may not seem like the perfect fit for the position.
I’d love to get some feedback in the comments below from folks who have faced this very dilemma.