Would You Take a Chance?


My Cousin Vinny is an American comedy film featuring two young New Yorkers traveling through rural Alabama who  are arrested and put on trial for a murder they did not commit. The 1992 movie follows the comical attempts of cousin Vinny Gambini, a lawyer who had only recently passed the bar exam after several unsuccessful attempts, to defend them.

In the end, Vinny is successful in getting his clients acquitted, but how often would one seriously consider hiring an attorney with no apparent experience to defend them in a capital murder case?

This same type of scenario plays itself out in multiple life decisions, including recruiting. An example is “taking chances” on candidates who do not meet specific requirements.

One question we get often from prospective clients is “How many placements have you made in XYZ skill set in the past year?”

Even if the skill set in question isn’t highly technical or one that requires years of specific training, clients will inevitably overlook prospective candidates who don’t have years of expertise in that role, despite the fact that they both can do the work and are motivated to do it because they’d get to learn and grow.

The question “How many placements have you made in XYZ skill set in the past year?” discounts direct and indirect relationships recruiters have built over time in translational fields.

For example, even if we haven’t placed a Chief Medical Officer (CMO) in the past 12 months, we may have done so previously. Further more, we might have over 200 existing contacts, know over 600 CEOs or other investors. These resources could easily be leveraged for rapid identification of strong candidate.

In comparison, a firm who has placed dozens of CMO’s in the past 12 months might have an extensive “off limits” list of companies they cannot recruit from or may not be as motivated to work on recruiting for the role as they’ve “been there and done that.”

Whether you’re hiring a candidate, a search firm, or cousin Vinny, the key to making a good decision is ensuring there is enough translational background and motivation to get the job done.

Consider a potential customer asking a homebuilder how many decks they’ve built in the last year and the homebuilder responding “None, but I’ve built 12 entire houses, would that work?”

What are your thoughts about taking chances?  Let us know in the comments.

If you’d like some help with this, and to understand how you can overcome some of these issues, please contact us.