Let me introduce Eva Rosenberg, Tax Mama. I’ve known Eva more than a few years, and she’s a spectacular individual. Brilliant. Sassy. Savvy. Effervescent. And then some. Today she wrote about the focus we put on hiring people with degrees, and I thought it would be interesting. And now: here’s Eva.
This morning I was corresponding with a tax professional who’s faced some resistance by the folks at Robert Half because he doesn’t have a college degree. No doubt Half must adhere to THE highest standards in the land. (They are a pretty good firm, in general.) But when you come across a candidate like this individual – with over a decade of solid tax experience, a great attitude, and a capacity for finding errors that might save a firm from lawsuits or sanctions…headhunters need to have the sense to make an exception.
I spent years as a headhunter in the fields of accounting and computer sciences. Most of the time, I also adhered to the job requirements. But when I met someone exceptional, that’s when my job got really interesting. That’s when my selling skills and charm came into play. Any headhunter who doesn’t have the guts to pitch someone exceptional is nothing more than a robot.
Let me tell you about one job opening for an accounting manager to run the operations at an oil related company in Long Beach, California – where we have a mess of refineries. The hiring manager was adamant about wanting a man – since the job required the manager to go out to the job sites and bully the workers into getting him records and paperwork on a regular basis. And he refused to back down on the degree issue. So, I made a deal with him. Once he got through interviewing the next three candidates who met his qualifications, if he wasn’t excited about them, he’d talk to the lady I wanted him to meet. (He’d been running ads and was already disheartened by the candidates he’d seen.)
He called me a couple of days later. OK, all I have to lose is an hour or so. Send your woman in.
She went there the next morning. And I didn’t hear from her or him. (Normally, my candidates were instructed to call me after the left the interview.) I still didn’t hear from her by the end of the day. So I called the employer. She was still with him. He was so excited about her that he’d spent the day with her and was arranging for the president in Texas (where else) to speak with her in the morning and make the final hiring decision.
This person didn’t have a degree. And she was a woman. But she was experienced, solidly rough around the edges and moved well in a greasy men’s industry.
Folks, if you’re looking to hire, don’t make a degree the key element. A good employee can always complete a degree. But not all degreed candidates have the experience, ethics and common sense of someone who’s pulled themselves up by their bootstraps. (Some do…but…open your eyes.)
There are some things you cannot train. When you find those qualities in a person, snap that person up and encourage them to train while under your tutelage.