I dunno, maybe stop panicking
Strategies for avoiding unamused geese and also how to hire better
Oh hello, oh hi, how are you today?
Me? I’m good! Thanks for asking. I’m healthy, I’m hydrated, I’m warm.
Beware vengeful geese.
What else is going on.
Looking forward to this week.
Getting dinner at Sud 777, hosting a Friendsgiving here in Mexico City with friends Faris and Rosie from, then meeting up with a friend from the Sunday Dinner slack.
Also been viewing new apartments down here recently. Gonna make a move in the next few months. One curious thing about apartments here in Mexico is the apartments don’t come with a fridge. You have to bring your own fridge. Fridge not included!
We were looking at a new apartment the other day. Beautiful space. Very modern. Balcony. Sun-filled atrium. Two bedrooms. Two baths. Shared roof deck. Doesn’t come with a fridge (but has a space for one). Doesn’t come with a dishwasher (but has a space for one). Doesn’t come with bathroom mirrors, but has the space for them. Luxury building, mirrors not included. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Work-wise, I’m closing out the year helping an org recruit a marketing leader.
That’s what I’d like to blabber about at length today.
Because hiring: hard work!
I’ve hired many people over the years. I hired while working in-house at NBC, while launching and running InsideHook, while running content for Article Group, and again now, as a consultant and recruiter.
It’s only in the last few years, as a bobblehead for hire, that I started applying a much more rigorous method to sourcing the best talent.
I use a simple tool that helps me hire.
It’s available below.
Let’s puddle jump in, yes?
p.s. Hello to the 75 or so of you who’ve joined since last week, likely from our friends over at, where my buddy and Go teacher Rafa Jimenez was kind enough to recommend this letter, and where I've hunt-and-pecked a few pieces like The Jeep Edition (about how Jeep’s are named after an inter-dimensional teleporting dog), The Meditation Edition (about sitting on your ass and breathing), and The Cannonball Run Edition (about the gleeful inheritors of Brock Yates' absurdist mantle). We’re at 1,700 more-attractive-than-average subscribers, and climbing. We started the year at 708. Can we get to 2k by year’s end? Maybe forward this to someone you don’t dislike!
K so here’s the way hiring usually goes
And I say usually because I’ve seen this happen, and in a past life I’ve even made this happen, so I’m here to confess: I’m sorry it happened! It doesn’t have to be this way.
It goes like this:
Somebody leaves an org.
But the hiring manager is busy! The hiring manager doesn’t have time! The hiring manager asks HR for help.
HR, god love them, asks the hiring manager for a job description.
But the hiring manager doesn’t have time! Lot of widgets to make! So the hiring manager opens their browser onto some sunless space, like indeed dot kill me, and copies from the job descriptions they find there.
Or they copy from the role’s previous job description.
The JD’s just an advert, they think.Besides, they know good talent when they see it. , they say. Gotta get that funnel going, man.
Hiring manager hands the JD to HR and says please, publish it on Munster or ZipWhatever.
Which HR does. And which works. If by works you mean that a bunch of people who passed the org’s keyword filters want a job.
The hiring manager looks through the applicants. Maybe has a lot of candidates with a variety of skills. Maybe isn’t too impressed with many of them. After all, these candidates haven’t been qualified by much, except that they really want a job. Gotta get that funnel going though, right? So the hiring manager decides to interview a few.
Probably there’s no established interview process. So the candidates interview with a few folks in the department. Each person has their own lay interviewing method. Subsequently, there’s no framework for evaluating the candidates, so the hiring manager picks the candidate with the best experience on paper because, well, they just feel right, y’know?
Already you can see the problems
Let’s finger count them:
Not strategizing for outcomes. Instead of asking what they need the person to achieve, they ask how should the person appear. They’re focused on a job description that reveals categories of work, but not what needs doing within those categories.
Expecting software to be strategic. Job sites like Indeed and ATS platforms like Greenhouse and Lever etc. are great at a) finding a lot of people who want a job, that b) pass a keyword filter, and c) organizing those people into interview queues. But software can’t do the upfront thinking about what exactly you need your new hire to achieve, and how that person fits into the org.
No defined criteria for interviewing or evaluating. Without a framework, the only way to compare notes is by feel. So you get people asking applicants the same questions, you get applicants alienated by the process, and you get no way to discuss, within your org, what exactly this person needs to do and why.
Not to mention, the problem that started it all: the hiring manager is probably panicking because they don’t have a pre-existing funnel.
When you don’t have a lot of candidates, you feel fear.
When you feel fear, your brain gives you bad advice.
I didn’t say that.
I mean I could have said that.
I feel like everyone says that?
Well anyway one person who definitely did say that is CEO coach Matt Mochary, who’s worked with leaders at OpenAI and Coinbase, among many others, and who recently open-sourced his coaching curriculum in Google docs.
“When you feel fear,” Matt says, “your brain gives you bad advice.”
Like I said.
Anyway I am not here to sell you magic beans
Regrettably, if an org hires in the manner described above ☝️, there’s no alchemical frijole that will transmute leaden disorganization into staffing gold.
Hiring is hard work.
Any bestselling airport business book will tell you.
But I can recommend a tool I’ve used that helps, and which it so happens I’ve copied liberally and shamelessly from one of those bestselling airport books.
The form of this tool will be familiar to anyone who’s led a structured hiring process.
It’s a scorecard.
I’ve filled this one in to provide an example of how it nets out, so just copy the file and customize to your needs:
k so why does this help
This scorecard is really good at translating a theoretical definition (ahem, job description) into practical terms.
Job descriptions typically describe a position in the abstract. They reveal categories of work. This scorecard goes a level deeper, explaining what exactly a candidate would need to accomplish, and by when, and how.
It defines the mission for the position, outcomes that must be accomplished within a timeframe, and competencies that fit both the culture of the org and the role.
Mission: An executive summary of the role's core purpose in plain English
Outcomes: What exactly needs to be done, ranked by order of importance
Competencies: How you expect a new hire to operate. These are the skills and behaviors required for a job, reflecting both the broader demands of the position and your org’s specific culture.
Going this level deeper has a clarifying effect.
When you write out what you want your hire to achieve, and how you want them to achieve it, the strategic need for the new body becomes much more clear.
If there’s any doubt or confusion over who does what in your org, creating this scorecard for even one role will provide much-needed definition.
As an indie consultant, I find that collaborating on this scorecard with your clients helps you understand their needs—and frankly, helps them understand their own needs—much better than only using a job description.
also helps you strategize long-term
There are basically three areas where this scorecard comes into play:
You can use the scorecard during role definition, to clarify the strategic outcomes you want to achieve.
You can use the scorecard during interviewing, to orient your team and their questioning.
And, you can use the rating and comments section of the scorecard to inform your performance reviews.
If, for example, one of your desired outcomes is for the new hire to develop a GTM strategy for product X within 180 days of hire, well now you can score the new hire at their next review on whether they accomplished that task.
Even longer-term, the scorecard helps you to create role-by-role outcomes for each new hire, which fosters alignment among your team. (I really wish we’d used this system at my previous agency, instead of creating a separate performance review system that required different inputs from each manager, and was barely connected to the job description which brought the employee into the org in the first place).
But I’ve gone on too long again, haven’t I.
Let me know how it goes.
And btw, I’m curious: Do you use scorecards? Have strong feelings about hiring frameworks?
Let me know in the comments.
I’d love to learn from your experience.
🎵 Hello e-mail my old friend. I’ve come to newsletter again. 🎵
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I have done this. You have done this. We have all done this.
Yes but what are you advertising?
Literally had an executive say this to me the other day: “I know good talent when i see it, I go by feel”. And then immediately afterward they said, “but our last three hires for this role have been disappointments and I don’t know why.” Hmm, yes, well, I thought. I have an idea.
I am not anti-app! ATS systems can be a godsend for organizing. They just won’t do the thinking for you.