Let’s start with this: I am not, like some members of my generation, a Pokémon Go hater.
In fact, I’ve played it. And I think it’s kinda cool. There are many things worse than moving off the couch, breathing some fresh air, and discovering places in your community you didn’t know existed. A library in my area has seen an uptick in visits from teens since the game’s launch. I think that’s cool, too.
But while playing, I couldn’t escape the comparisons between Pokémon hunting and the search for talent at work, both when it’s done well, and when it’s bungled…
- You’re looking for nonexistent creatures. You do know that Pokémon don’t really exist, don’t you? And neither do some of the workers you’re seeking. Some of your requirements are too specific, and have nothing to do with the known predictors of success in the roles you’re trying to fill. Some recruiters are screening first for technical skills and experience, before considering (if they ever do) values, attitudes, and cultural fit.I spoke with a manager earlier this year who had been trying, in vain, for six months to fill a critical opening. No wonder. She was looking for a social media development specialist with a master’s degree and a minimum of five years’ experience as a social media development specialist in a nonprofit healthcare environment, and with, by the way, a FICO credit score greater than 700, as if that mattered. Good luck. If not totally nonexistent, this person is as rare as the elusive Mew. The fix: learn how to screen for what matters most; keep your standards high, but realistic.
- You MUST stay alert and remain aware of your surroundings. Bring up your app (I know you downloaded it, just like I did). That’s the first warning you’re hit with. And it’s the best advice any Pokémon Go player and any recruiter can heed. Disregarding it has caused people to walk off cliffs, be shot at for trespassing, and miss the best available talent. The fix: Never stop recruiting. Be on the lookout. That server who just knocked your socks off and that LinkedIn connection who doesn’t really “look the part” may be two great catches. But you’ll never know if you’re not paying attention.
- Pokémon don’t come to you. The “Go” in the name of the game is there for a reason. Just like the talent you need to fuel your enterprise, you have to go to lured Pokéstops and catch every Pidgey and Rattata that pops up. In a world full of passive candidates (not looking, but open to possibilities), good finds abound in nontraditional places. Go get ’em.What to do: Find out where your best Pokéstops are for the talent you need. Where do your best candidates hang out? Job boards? Social media? (Of course, but which ones?); How about YouTube? Do you have a video that makes people want to work for you? The Hillsboro, Oregon Police Department does, and it’s had twice as many views as the town has residents. What about your own website? Does it provide a window into your world of work, or just an online application? Lots of questions. I hope you have the right answers. It matters.
- Almost anyone can play. And when it comes to employee recruiting, almost everyone should. Every manager’s job includes recruiting. In fact, when I use the word “recruiter”, I am NOT referring only to those with the word in their title. And some of your best hires come from current players who refer (recruit) their friends and family, which, of course, they won’t do if it sucks to work for your outfit.
- The best players are consistent. Pokémon Go may, or may not, be a fad. Too soon to tell. But one thing is certain. Recruiting is here to stay. Niantic’s data on players (Oh, you didn’t know they were collecting data lol?) already tell us that practice helps. Those who play more often, play better (and not just the other way around).And we know that the recruiters who enjoy the best results stay at it, day in, day out, by actively looking (in the right places, and for the right things), and by working on their single, number one most powerful recruiting tool – their reputation as a great leader in a great place for people to work.
Thanks to my friend, Eric Yarham, a software developer, actor, champion of the arts, and avid Pokémon Go player who’s half my age, and who helped me make a few tweaks to this article.