Critical Hiring Mistake #3 – Unicorn Hunting


Welcome back in for Critical Mistake #3 that can sabotage your team growth efforts.

Now, if you’ve watched the previous two videos, Mistakes #1 and #2 are on leading by talking about yourself, about your company. And #2, giving the life story about your organization, when really all you need to do is provide just the critical pieces of information that are going to increase the candidate’s interest in your company and your opportunity.

So what is Mistake #3? Well, it’s a fun one, because mistake number three is something that I see companies do all the time when marketing a job ad: It’s when they go unicorn hunting.

Now, what is Unicorn hunting? Unicorn hunting happens when your job requirements, the absolutely, y’know drop dead “required” skills, the “deal breakers”, include a laundry list of skills that you will be extremely hard pressed to find in one person.

And a lot of times these required skills aren’t even the accurate list of skills that you must have for somebody to fill this position. It happens a lot of times if you copy an old job ad you found online and you don’t take a critical eye to those required skills. So you end up having a list of things, you know, in the software engineering world for example, you may require somebody to have five or six different programming languages under their belt to some obscene level of experience. They have to have 10+ years experience in five different languages, platforms, or frameworks, and the likelihood of finding somebody who has that level of experience with all of those things is simply not gonna happen.

So what you should do instead is really take that list of required skills and pare it down to exactly what is absolutely necessary.

You could also take the level of expertise that somebody needs in order to be successful in this role and you could maybe present it in a different manner.

For example: You might find a candidate who has 10 years of experience with a certain skill, but they’ve never really developed and improved their skills in that area. So the 10 years is really quite useless. Instead, if you describe it as a level of expertise, you know: Expert/Familiar/Competent

Using those sorts of words, you might be able to be a little bit more descriptive in a better way about what exactly that candidate needs to have, and how fluent or how much of an expert they need to be with a particular skill.

So again, don’t list out 15, 20, 25 different skills that are all required, because you’re just going to scare away people who might be interested in that particular opportunity, but they’re worried that they don’t want to have one out of the 25 things that you’ve listed. Therefore, they’re not going to apply, and it may turn out that you don’t actually require that one skill that they didn’t have in the first place.

So, don’t go unicorn hunting. Make sure that you’re very clear on exactly what is required, and what might be a “Should-have” or a “Nice-to-have” skill or ability in your ideal hire.

Please, for your sake and for your candidate’s sake: Stop. Going. Unicorn. Hunting.

Thank you.