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October 26, 2017

Moving Target Syndrome

Everyone knows it’s hard to hit a moving target.

In the world of recruiting, there’s a common problem I call Moving Target Syndrome (let’s call it MTS). In the classic presentation of MTS, the hiring company keeps changing direction. One week they’re looking for candidates with this profile, next week they’re looking for candidates with that profile, and the following week it’s something else.

Naturally, constantly moving the target makes it nearly impossible to hit the bull’s-eye. These recruiting projects tend to go on forever, and frequently end in failure.

How do you know if you have MTS? If you’ve interviewed a long parade of candidates and none of them is right, you probably have it. Things won’t get better unless you make some changes.

Fortunately, the cure is straightforward. Once you recognize the problem, immediately pause the search. Take a few days to re-examine the candidate specification, and eliminate the areas of ambiguity that have been handicapping you. If key players don’t agree, get them in a room and hash it out until you reach consensus.

Then, with a solid candidate specification in hand, get back to work. You’ll discover it’s much easier to find what you want when you know what you’re looking for.

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