Taking the blinders off when hiring

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If you have visited New York, or probably any other city with horse-drawn carriages that give tours around parks and such, you’ve inevitably seen the blinders their owners put on the horses to keep them focused and more at ease. Much like these horses, in business it is common for leaders to walk around with blinders on. These blinders keep us focused on what has worked; they keep us steady in our path and curtail distractions that might lead us, and our teams, off course.

But as marketers, it is our job every day, in my opinion, to take our blinders off. The world is moving at a speed never before realized and just because something has worked in the past doesn’t mean it is going to work in the future. We need to be active participants in life, observing everything around us to gain inspiration from it and figuring out how what we see and experience might have applicability at work.

I challenge my team every day to engage with their surroundings, both in and out of the office. Being observant may be one of the greatest skills a marketer can have. But I suppose this philosophy is a harder pill to swallow in the b-to-b space than in b-to-c, since b-to-b is often seen as a little more conservative—or, dare I say, less innovative.

But it has never been truer for b-to-b marketers.

Given how I’ve chosen to start this post, you might be thinking that I am going to focus on “taking off our blinders” as a marketing strategy. And in some respects you could categorize what I’m about to say as a marketing strategy. But I want you to put your managerial hat on for a minute and indulge me. Let’s take our blinders off as hiring managers.

One of the greatest lessons I have discovered in my career is to hire outside of my own industry when appropriate. Talent, innovation and inspiration abound when you can open your eyes to the insights garnered by those who have cut their teeth in other industries or categories. There are best practices that can be realized from any industry and applied to your own. I am not suggesting that you should always look beyond candidates who have built their careers in your own industry, since there is tremendous value in all of that collective experience and expertise. I’m just suggesting you be open to it.
Think about yourself. Have you ever looked at a résumé from someone outside of your own industry and comfort zone, and simply turned your back on the candidate because you couldn’t immediately make the connection to how that experience might apply? Surely we’ve all been guilty of it.

You might have encountered excuses like these: “It will take them too long to get up the learning curve,” or “There will be too much energy expended to train them.” I can tell you from experience, in a world that is increasingly interconnected, commoditized, moving fast and in a constant sate of evolution, the best thing you can do for your company, your team and yourself is to look at candidates you might not otherwise consider. They bring fresh perspectives, best practices gained, energy, enthusiasm and inspiration for your team.

I have seen such success come from this strategy that I encourage you to give it both a thought and a try. Sometimes I find that in business, like in life, all we need is a breath of fresh air.

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