Candidate Pools & Proactive Recruiting, Screening, Assessment, Interviewing, Sourcing

Are You Seeking Only Gold Medalists?

Every company wants to hire the best and the brightest, the superstars who have achieved the equivalent of gold medals in their careers.

But by seeking only these candidates, you may be overlooking equally capable individuals who have the potential to shine at your organization.

Going for the Gold

How do you know if you’re guilty of “gold medal bias”?

Among the signs you may be relying too heavily on gold medal status are:

  • You target only graduates of Ivy League colleges and universities, or other institutions of higher education that you deem top-tier.
  • You seek candidates who graduated with exceptionally high grade-point averages.
  • You will only interview job candidates who have worked for top companies in your industry.
  • You look for evidence of “the best” when assessing work history – the top sales person in the company, the youngest person to ever become partner at a prestigious law firm, etc.
  • You are drawn to a candidate’s awards and accolades disproportionate to the value of such kudos – for example, a candidate’s inclusion on a list of young professionals to watch.

Overlooking Opportunity

How do these practices impede recruiting success?

Using the above examples, here is where you may be missing out:

  • Although a candidate did not graduate from an Ivy League school, he may have received a stellar education and be highly qualified for the job for which you are recruiting.
  • A high grade-point average, while arguably indicative of academic ability, may or may not translate to the world of work. Consider which candidate you would rather have working for your company: the one with the exceptionally high grade-point average and no work experience, or the one who put herself through school working two jobs and still made the dean’s list most semesters.
  • While there’s no doubt that companies with brand recognition stand out on a resume, a person can achieve success and learn a great deal at a lesser known firm.
  • There is only one “best” at every job that measures accomplishments in this way (e.g., salesperson). Not only are you limiting yourself by seeking a candidate who is the top performer, you are missing out on other qualities that may be relevant to the position for which you are recruiting. For example, the number two salesperson may have achieved second place status while pursuing an MBA.
  • Awards and accolades are attention-grabbers, but they should not substitute for tangible qualifications. You should also be aware that many awards have an application process, and some require an application fee. Here again, ask yourself which candidate you would rather have working for your company: the one whose name appears on a list of young professionals to watch or the person with a lengthy record of accomplishments.

While gold medalists may indeed have something to offer your organization, silver and bronze medalists may as well.

In addition, you want to keep an eye out for would-be stars, those who haven’t yet had an opportunity to show what they can do. These candidates could become winners at your company.

Paula Paula Santonocito, Contributing Editor for Recruiting Daily Advisor, is a business journalist specializing in employment issues. She is the author of more than 1,000 articles on a wide range of human resource and career topics, with an emphasis on recruiting and hiring. Her articles have been featured in many global and domestic publications and information outlets, referenced in academic and legal publications as well as books, and translated into several languages.