You Might Like Candidates With Hickeys

I was sitting in my living room this past Mother’s Day watching the final moments of the PGA Player’s Championship which was won by Tiger Woods and thought to myself how much America loves stories about people who fall and get back up.  My teenage son was watching and cheering on Tiger, even though he is aware of Tigers many transgressions.  My wife, of course, refuses to cheer Tiger on and I look on with interest – as I’m sure many sports fans do.  My interest is to see how someone claws back to the top.  I not a Tiger hater or a Tiger lover – I consider myself an observer of a gigantic societal experiment.  How many people can one person offend, and then see how many he can win back – by winning.

I wonder if Tiger was not a Nike poster child and start athlete, if he was just your ordinary every day accountant, how we might treat him differently?  If Tiger, the CPA, came into your office and you knew of his past behavior, would you ever give him a chance to work at your company?  My guess is, the majority of HR pros would say – “No!”   “We don’t want that ‘kind’ of person working in our company.”  “He made personal choices, and now he should pay for them professionally.”

These are the same HR pros that when a talented employees comes to them, whose performance has recently slipped, and tells the HR pro, “I’ve got a drinking problem” – that HR pros will go to great lengths to help that employee find help.  To get them back on the ‘right’ path, and welcome them back to their workforce with open arms.  “But, Tim, Tiger didn’t ask for help, he got caught!  There’s a difference!”  Yes, you are correct – one sought help, one got caught.  That seems to be the fine line to whether we will give people a second chance in our country.

Come forward and admit your sins – and all if forgiven.   Don’t come forward and get caught – and live for eternity paying for your sins.  Both sinned.  Maybe the person who got caught was one day way from finally realizing it was their time to come forward, maybe they were two days away, who knows.  Such unequal treatment to some very similar end results of behavior.

Think about that when you interview your next candidate who has a hickey on their resume.  Tiger was the best ‘talent’ in the entire world at his profession.  Did something horrible.  Now is again the best ‘talent’ in the entire world at his profession.  We are smarter about who he is now – a highly talented golfer with flaws as a man.  We don’t look at him as a ‘role model’ or a ‘hero’ – and we probably never should have.

I think a lot of companies are probably missing out and some great ‘talent’ – that only needs a second chance.  Eyes wide open.  That recovery addict might be your next most talented employee you’ve ever hired.  She might also be a total bust.  I can live with a total bust – I’ve hired busts before.  I have a hard time walking away from truly talented folks because they have a hickey!


8 thoughts on “You Might Like Candidates With Hickeys

  1. Excellent post.

    You know the first people to condemn are often the guiltiest. I’m looking at you, HR ladies.

  2. I have to agree with you that this (both Tiger’s follies and within the HR world) is a sticky situation, and a very interesting social experiment. When it comes to recruiting, it seems there can be certain ways to get around these “hickeys” that can be institutionalized within the HR strategy. My company’s methods for interviewing look at patterns of success, rather than simply experience and culture fit, to try to get a picture of a candidate’s potential for long-term success. While this method certainly doesn’t rule out “mishires” completely, it has been wildly successful in building a team of motivated, smart people who have proven they have what it takes to rise to challenges. It’s certainly one way of looking beyond those resume blemishes and taking on some incredible people!

  3. Tim – great post. This really is a pause for a sober second thought (no pun intended) when evaluating candidates. I totally agree with your comment, “We don’t look at him as a ‘role model’ or a ‘hero’ – and we probably never should have.” I think this is the great fallacy we have in “evaluating” sports figures, celebrities, etc. Thanks for the article.

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