A Leading Perspective

Pragmatic insights for the leader in you

Holding Out

How often do we refuse our fate under the guise of holding out for the right thing? 


There is an old story of a young man in Alaska traveling to Florida.  He’s hitchhiking in freezing temperatures and he’s so cold, he can barely hold his sign.  A friendly trucker comes along and offers the weary traveler a ride but says, “I’m only going as far as Georgia.”

Disappointed, the young man rejects the offer.


I thought of this story the other day when checking in with a client regarding her decision on a recent recruitment effort.  Long gone are the days when they had plenty of applicants to choose from…when we were blessed with the curse of wanting more than one.  Regardless, the top three candidates, while none could hit the ground running, were willing, able and had the capacity to do the work.  Moreover, a thorough selection process helped us determine they would probably “fit” the organization’s culture!


At first I thought the indecision and the delay were caused by cold feet on behalf of the new manager.  But as the days wore on, I realized she was waiting for the perfect candidate.


She needed a gentle reminder that her wait could result in the loss of three viable candidates.


Please don’t mistake my perspective as wanting her to simply fill the seat.  I don’t believe in settling for a pulse and I would never encourage a manager to do so!


I understand her reluctance to make a job offer.


We all want someone who will hit the ground running.


We all want someone who won’t need the heavy training and one-on-one attention. 


We all want someone who immediately knows the jargon, understands the processes and “gets” it.


But when a ride to Florida isn’t available, perhaps we should accept a ride to Georgia as a gift!


Consider this: would you like to have a new employee who:


  • Is bright, self-disciplined, and takes accountability for his own development;
  • Is ready and capable of being an extension of you in his/her delivery of services;
  • Is resourceful and demonstrates sound judgment;
  • Fits into the organization’s culture; and
  • May have a steep learning curve but also the determination to face it head on.

It is true you or others may have to spend a lot of time with this person.  Who cares?  You are spending a lot of time doing the work yourselves anyway.  And hello, you should be spending significant time with any new employee, regardless of his/her knowledge, skills and abilities!


Alas, this person may have a lot to learn.  Be thankful…think of him/her as a blank slate and decorate accordingly.


Indeed, a “newbie” isn’t going to know the jargon, the processes and the politics.  Consider that a gift in itself!  Capitalize on the ignorance and use him/her as a catalyst to help rid your program of sacred cows, inefficient processes, closed minds and political nonsense.

I know Georgia is not Florida…but it’s damn close!


Additional thoughts for the HR Professional

How many vacancies does your organization have today?

How many of them are vacant because the Hiring Manager is holding out for a perfect candidate?

How can you help him/her come to a decision before he/she misses out on the opportunity that is waiting in the wings?


By the way, I’m in Florida at the moment so the story was fitting! 🙂  Attending the 2012 HR Florida Conference & Expo – fun times!

Human ResourcesRecruitmentRole of HRSelectionSkill DevelopmentValueWorkforce

Heather Kinzie • August 26, 2012

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