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Hiring and the Superman Fallacy



Hiring people for your organization’s digital efforts tends to be very challenging. Given the need to be competitive and in tune with the changing digital landscape, you already have your work cut out in trying to find perfect candidates for your needs.


The good news is your organization has hit a key milestone, perhaps an upcoming digital transformation, skyrocketing revenue growth, or an M&A opportunity, however, they acknowledge help is needed to support the initiative. This leads to the usual next steps in the hiring process—crafting a job description to cover the needed role responsibilities, getting the job requisition approved, identifying qualified candidates, and finally making an offer.


The pitfall begins with the job description. In most cases, the attempt to properly define the job description is flawed from the very beginning. Most companies will assume these roles -Digital, Data, and Cyber- in the traditional IT scope. The world of IT has evolved significantly in a very short amount of time. In just the past few years, it has evolved from the on-prem server room, break-fix problem solving to digital, in-the-cloud innovation. Human Resources may try to match titles to traditional job descriptions from search engine queries and/or may cut and paste functions from positions at far larger teams at Fortune 500 companies. Many of the new digital roles and responsibilities at larger companies are still evolving. Following traditional ways of crafting job descriptions will set you up to fail because you may not even know what you’re looking for and are likely throwing a bunch of outdated, non-relevant functions at the wall.


What essentially happens is a superman job description, based on an impossible wish list of criteria, is stitched together in an attempt to push through the job requisition. Now the pressure is on to find this mythical person to fill this role, loads of hours will be wasted pouring over resumes, and interviewing candidates, and with the pressure to hire this person for fear of losing the budget for the role, you will ultimately hire the wrong candidate.


How can you ensure you have the correct job description, screen qualified candidates, and ultimately fill this role? First, understand it is impossible to hire just one expert who can handle all the various functions in this new digital world. Organizations should let go of the idea of finding a superman who will check off every box. The digital landscape has become larger, more complex, and ultra-specialized.


The way to deal with complexities like this is to work with people who have experience in successfully building and running innovative initiatives conceived not only in this emerging world, but who fully understand the evolution, opportunities, and changing needs when identifying the talent required. The solution is not hiring one impossible unicorn, but coming up with a customized plan of your true needs from a team of individual experts. I know, know, the BUDGET word is popping up. Please read carefully as this next part is the difference between the old way, the new and better way, and how you will succeed with your future hiring needs.


The secret of these new roles and their responsibilities is many are not full-time positions. Automation and improvement, as well as the transition to the cloud, have optimized many duties. Some core functions still exist, but certainly not at the same volume. Now, many of the new job description functions also require a highly specialized skillset. This can vary from extremely technical to more visionary to more integration. It may be becoming apparent how these skills need to be handled by different people because of the nature of their focus.


The solution to support your initiative with these specialized responsibilities is to shift your hiring practice for this new role from the traditional, single, full-time employee, to a three-dimensional team of fractional experts. First, your hiring needs should match the initiative you are trying to support. Second, those various roles should be developed and identified in a responsibility matrix built and tested by an experienced team already living in this new world. Third, an action plan should be developed to hire these fractional roles and integrate them with your existing team of full-time employees.

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