You Don't Need the Whole Parking Lot to Be Empty (and what this means about hiring)

I'm from New Jersey.  I know, I know, I'm not supposed to admit that on the internet... But I'm a Jersey girl and this is my company so I'm not scared to admit it. 

Growing up in Jersey--- in the 90s--- there was one place to go on the weekends when it wasn't hot enough to be at the shore.  You guessed it... The Mall.  In fact- you could identify whether someone was "your type" or if a boy was worth dating by asking "which mall is your mall?"  (I actually had TWO malls Rockaway and the Freehold Mall depending on whether I was with my cousins.)  All of this is to say I have pro-level experience in mall parking lots and this is the deep source of knowledge from whence I write this blog about hiring. 

I learned a little parking trick from my dad that has worked for me until this day, and also works in other situations.  

You see, my dad would pull up to the front door of the mall and say "I'm getting the dream spot."   Then he would drive slowly until someone pulled out, and pull right in.  Most people don't go directly for the good spots on a busy day, so there usually aren't any cars lurking for the space as they come up.  My dad always got the spot and would follow up with this line "You don't need the whole lot to be empty,  you just need one space for one car." 

And thus, the brilliance of my father's thinking.  He wasn't worried about what he rest of the parking lot looked like.  He just wanted to find the best spot for his one car.  

So let's play this metaphor out.  The parking lot is your candidate pool.  As the hiring manager, you feel like it is your due dilligence requirement to look at every space in the lot to see if your car will fit in it.  You want to know, even if it's far away from the door to the mall, that it might have been an option for your car. 

In this metaphor, the closer the parking spot is to the mall door the better fit the candidate is to the job description.  The "dream spot" as my dad would say, is that candidate who comes from a good school, gets along with the management team, and has the requisite experience at a similar company to help you achieve your goals.  They even have some of the other, non-required, things like software specific expertise and experience in your specific industry. 

Now, the inexperienced mall-parker (like, maybe someone who wasn't from Jersey) would not trust that a perfect space could open up and would spend precious shopping time driving around the outer orbits of the parking lot to find a place to park.  But, if you promise only to compare the space to how close it is to the door, and go for what you want, eventually you get it. 

I train my recruiters to ask clients a simple question,  "Do you promise to compare the candidate to the job description and not to the other candidates."  This is because, when you find someone who is great in comparison to the job description, you have to act fast to get them on-boarded.  If you wanted to take the time to compare this awesome "dream spot" candidate to the rest of the market---the parking spaces that are farther away from the mall-- then you will miss the best candidate, and also frustrate a lot of candidates and colleagues. 

You only need one space for your car.  You only need one candidate to do the job.  So don't waste your time comparing the market when you have a "dream spot."  Instead, compare the candidate to what needs to be done at your company.  When you find someone who can do that, and do it well, you've found your hire.  

Whatever you do, do NOT take another lap around the parking lot once you meet the candidate that can do the job well at your company!  You will thank me for snagging that candidate while you have them in the process.