Article: Here’s why you don’t need to hire unicorn employees

A Brand Reachout InitiativeTalent Acquisition

Here’s why you don’t need to hire unicorn employees

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Train a promising candidate instead
Here’s why you don’t need to hire unicorn employees

unicorn (n): Candidate with qualifications that go much beyond the scope and scale of the job.

In 1997, Steven Hankin of McKinsey & Company coined the phrase “The war for talent”, which refers to the increasingly competitive landscape for recruiting and retaining talented employees. Key talent is a competitive advantage that can either make a company’s future or fracture it, if not utilized effectively. Hiring someone who has the ability to wear many hats and excel at varied task is important to sustain in this hyper competitive world. But these so-called ‘unicorns’ are hard to find. Even the most skilled hiring technique can’t guarantee that you will hire a unicorn employee. Companies today spend a lot of time searching for the best candidate. But in the hunt for one, they tend to ignore the potential prospective candidates owing to ‘perceived’ skill gaps, who are agile and willing to adapt and learn.

A.S. Murthy, Executive Vice President, Tech Mahindra notes that " Technologies today are changing so scarily fast that organizations can’t predict which specific technologies are likely to yield bulk of their revenues a year from now (not three – four years from now).  Given this context, IT organizations need employees who are adept in quick unlearning–relearning! An expert in today’s technology may become obsolete in no time. Those with positive (and curious) attitude to learn (and also teach, when needed) would be loved by the employers across the globe. That would be a Win-Win!”.

Following reasons suggests why training a promising candidate is more advantageous than hiring a unicorn employee:

Saves hiring time: Great employees are made not found. Hiring managers today waste time by looking for unicorn employees and miss out on candidates with excellent untapped potential. These candidates may not have had a long list of achievements to boast about but they are extremely proactive and show a fierce commitment to excel in the pursuit of unselfish goals.

Flexibility: In this VUCA world, it is crucial to hire candidates who are flexible and willing to adapt their working style to the company’s business context. Hiring unicorn employees doesn’t always mean flexible employees. Since the expectations are high, these candidates often expect the company to adapt to their ways. 

On the other hand, hiring candidates who have the potential and are willing to adapt can be easily trained to tackle an increasingly disruptive marketplace.

Saves cost: Your recruitment and selection process doesn’t guarantee that you’ll hire a unicorn. Even if you hire a person who carries an impressive background and has competencies, he or she might not be able to adjust. In addition to that, hiring unicorn employees often means a fat pay check, high bonuses and other benefits. Instead, nurturing a candidate who has a potential to be a high performer and is passionate about learning would reap better returns in the long run.

Retention: In case their expectations in terms of the job, culture or pay are not met, unicorns will not think twice before leaving your organization. On the other hand, hiring someone who is genuinely interested in enhancing his or her skills can not only reduce the risk of attrition, they can also enhance motivation and engagement among your existing employees.

Enhance Employer Value Proposition: Hiring a prospective employee and providing them with targeted learning and development opportunities makes them feel valued. Helping employees grow throughout their lifecycle has positive consequences on the organization’s own growth and development. This ensures that employees in the company become internal brand ambassadors.

Enhanced workplace culture: Skills can be taught but not the culture. A study conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management found that turnover costs of hiring someone who is not a cultural fit is between 50-60% of that person’s annual salary. Hire someone whose values resonates with your organization. One can develop and keep a track of a prospective employee’s growth and promotion by implementing a well-defined “High-potential’’ training programs. A unicorn employee might have skills to show for but may also bring with him or her alternative values and cultural attributes.

Today, building a learning culture at workplace is key to keep up with the changing technology. What was once the latest and greatest yesterday, is old hat today. Employees need to be trained continuously in order to face the workplace challenges and keep the productivity bar high. One should always look out for people who are proactive about their careers and demonstrate hunger for continuous learning. Make sure you look out for candidates demonstrating these behaviors instead.

This article is written in partnership with Pluralsight a technology learning platform which provides the agility to accelerate market leadership through technology, grow and retain top talent and deliver on key business objectives.  

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Topics: Talent Acquisition, #Create The Future

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