Things to Consider When Hiring Leaders During a Tight Labor Market

Episode 37

Episode overview

Have you ever taken a risk when it came to hiring a leader? Has it paid off? In a tight labor market, hiring the right leader can be challenging. 

In this episode of the Hire Calling Podcast, Pete and Ricky share their best advice on how to hire a leader that is right for your organization. From Ricky’s HR perspective, he believes in taking a cautious approach. But what is the best mix of being cautious while also being realistic?

According to Ricky, there are 3 things a good leader should possess, the right skill set, a charismatic personality, and strong chemistry. Is there anything you can sacrifice? Going through different scenarios, both evaluate the risks that come from bringing someone on with a lack of skill set or zero charisma.

If you are a hiring authority you are going to want to tune in!

25 minutes

View transcript

Additional resources

Tips for hiring leaders

  1. When interviewing someone, you should look at three things. Their skill set, personality, and making sure the chemistry is there. All of those things should be present when looking to hire a successful candidate. Determining their personality and soft skills during an interview is crucial and will tell you how that person  communicates. 
  2. People can put anything on their resumes. Chemistry matters and personality definitely matters. Make sure your interpretation of their resume is 100% correct before pulling the trigger to hire them. 
  3. When hiring an individual for a position they are not qualified for on paper, you have to consider the risk of people not respecting their authority. But for the right person, that risk might be worth taking. 
  4. You don’t have to be an extrovert to be a really good leader. They may have a harder time, but introverts can be too. You need to find a people person. That situational guidance, leadership, and mentorship is just as important as dealing with the specific tasks at hand.
  5. Depending on how close you are to the work that’s being done, you have to put more or less value on the particular knowledge and skills that’s necessary and then act accordingly. When you’re looking to hire someone, depending on the position, you can determine what kind of skill sets have more value than others. 

Pete Newsome

About Pete Newsome

Pete Newsome is the president of 4 Corner Resources, the nationally acclaimed staffing and recruiting firm he founded in 2005. His mission back then was the same as it is today: to do business in a personal way, while building an organization with boundless opportunities for ingenuity and advancement. When not managing 4 Corner’s growth or spending time with his family of six, you can find Pete sharing his sales and business expertise through public speaking, writing, and as the host of the Hire Calling podcast.

Ricky Baez

About Rick Baez

Efrain “Ricky” Baez Jr. is a published human resources professional specializing in strategically aligning HR competencies to business goals with a down to earth, common sense approach. Ricky is a four- year veteran of the United States Marine Corps and holds a Masters degree in Human Resources (MHR) from Rollins College and an SPHR certification from the Human Resources Certification Institute. Ricky is also a faculty member for the Master of Human Resources program at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida.


Pete Newsome  00:12
You’re listening to The Hire Calling Podcast. I’m your host Pete Newsome. And this is your source for all things hiring, staffing, and recruiting. I’m joined again by Ricky Baez. 

Pete Newsome  00:20
Ricky, it’s Friday morning. How are you today?

Ricky Baez  00:24
It is going great. It is Friday, the end of the week, Pete and I am just excited for the weekend. 

Pete Newsome  00:31
Awesome, Father’s Day weekend is coming up any big plans?

Ricky Baez  00:35
Yes, actually, I’m just going to be in the backyard. Barbecue and smoking some brisket, smoking some wings. 

Pete Newsome  00:41
Even with the heat? The heats not going to discourage you from that at all?

Ricky Baez  00:46
Pete, I have such a passion for barbecue and for grilling. I am like the mail service neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom at night these hurries away.

Pete Newsome  00:56
Ricky, you just offered yourself as the mail service. Are you sure? 

Ricky Baez  01:02
No, dude! The United States Postal Service, just to be clear. 

Pete Newsome  01:10
I mean, even though you’re the HR guy, you tend to scare me a little bit with this stuff.

Ricky Baez  01:15
I’m doing my job then, right Pete? So here’s the thing, because if I did the other thing, I will make no money you know what, maybe I won’t because people were paying me to get away from them.

Pete Newsome  01:15
You know, that’s yet another thing you can add to your arsenal, the mail service.

Ricky Baez  01:39
This show is starting off great.

Pete Newsome  01:42
Well, we do have a purpose today. And that purpose is to try to answer a question or at least maybe debate it. One that I think a lot of organizations struggle with when hiring leaders. Certainly at a time like this where it is such a tight labor market, that all the challenges are exacerbated right now, right? 

Pete Newsome  02:08
When it comes to hiring and listen, it’s great for employees and great for anyone who’s looking for a job, but it makes it difficult for organizations who need to hire talent when the labor market is tight. So this particular question is one I suspect companies are facing often these days. 

Pete Newsome  02:26
And the question is this when hiring a leader. how much do you need to consider their soft skills and personality and ability to lead generally speaking, versus the specific background and experience they have in the area that they’re going to be leading? Can you sacrifice that specific experience for their leadership skills and traits? And if so, to what degree?

Ricky Baez  02:56
So that’s a good one. 

Ricky Baez  02:57
From my HR training, what I’m supposed to say, Pete, is, what is on the resume skill set, only focus on their skill set. And that’s not wrong focusing on their skill set. But let me give you this example. 

Ricky Baez  03:12
All right, I’m going to answer the question with an example. 

Ricky Baez  03:15
Let’s say that I am looking for somebody, a prolific leader, somebody who’s really charismatic, to lead a lot of great minds. And I’m talking about 25 people. And we bring this person in solely because of their skill set, their background of the technical aspect of their resume. 

Ricky Baez  03:34
But this person can’t get along with anybody. So I now have 25 people on a team, all of who bring amazing talents to the organization and they do a great job. And if I bring one person in to lead them, and this one person cannot get along, they don’t have chemistry, they don’t build relationships with their team. I don’t care how many PhDs they have. I don’t know if I’m going to bring that person in. 

Ricky Baez  03:59
I think that’s going to sabotage the team. Maybe the team is not going to work great together just because they don’t get along with their boss, but people don’t get along with each other. So these, especially these days, people, I look for minimum skill. I mean, that’s the minimum requirement for the job. 

Ricky Baez  04:17
But also equally as important I look for a work ethic, and a love for chemistry, because that’s a fine line. It’s a good balance. HR leaders and people who have hiring authorities need to balance right because you’ve got to be able to bring somebody into the organization who’s got the right soft skills to get people motivated so they can use the skills we hired them to use. 

Ricky Baez  04:40
I don’t know if that makes sense or not? 

Pete Newsome  04:41
It does, but what I want to challenge you on something and ask you to clarify something else, which I was a little surprised to hear you say but I think it’s not a shock given that I see ads lately for artificial intelligence based recruiting tools. 

Pete Newsome  04:59
Where they say, you know, you don’t need to look beyond the resume essentially, right, take all the bias off the table. And while that’s admirable in terms of what it’s attempting to achieve, you said that I just should look at the resume to make sure the skill and background is there. 

Pete Newsome  05:22
Should anyone actually hire that way? Take personality out of the equation? And, you know, that’s an outlook, we’re a sales organization. When we hire, when we recruit on behalf of our clients, we consider very strongly the person’s soft skills, and are they going to be a good fit in the culture for the environment?

Pete Newsome  05:46
Whatever that environment might be? Every organization has its own distinct culture. So should you really do that? I mean, is that what the HR guidebook says, to not consider anything beyond the resume?

Ricky Baez  06:01
Well, it doesn’t it’s that it is not a law. I mean, that’s not like policy number 45.8, right? 

Pete Newsome  06:07
HR people do have a policy. We don’t know what it is. 

Ricky Baez  06:12
I carry it in my left breast pocket everywhere I walk.

Ricky Baez  06:15
No, but look, it’s from a legal perspective. That’s one. And again, I’m not an attorney, for everybody listening, I’m not a lawyer, this is not legal advice. But I would have to assume, from a legal perspective, they will want us to go that route because that eliminates any possibility of making a hiring decision based on something that has nothing to do with skill.

Ricky Baez  06:36
It could be based on something that’s illegal, like, you know, age, sex, national origin, things of that nature. I’m not saying they’re mutually exclusive. But that is what the training is supposed to help you with, at the very least as a minimum foundation.

Ricky Baez  06:56
When the HR person starts getting in there, and we start interviewing, then we take the skill set A, along with the personality, B, and C, making sure the chemistry is there with everybody else, all of those things together. That is what I advise my clients, I tell my students, and everybody I talked to, that’s how you’re supposed to hire. So it was three things together.

Pete Newsome  07:17
So let me ask you to imagine a scenario where you hire just based on background and experience. And so the resume just because someone lists something on the resume doesn’t mean they actually did it, or have that skill to a significant degree. 

Pete Newsome  07:34
But let’s say you have a way of verifying that everything on the resume is true. And that is the only thing you considered when hiring and everyone in the organization was hired only to make some matching, you know where I’m going with as their resume with the job description. 

Pete Newsome  07:52
I can’t imagine a more dystopian, imagine that company. I mean, do you think eventually it could exist somewhere? I mean, it’d be a heck of an experiment to see play out, wouldn’t it? Where no personality or soft skills whatsoever were considered with hiring, what would that company look like? 

Ricky Baez  08:13
Oh, my goodness, I have no, I don’t know. So as you’re asking that question, I’m picturing myself painting myself in a corner. Because I’m like, Oh, I see where he’s going with this. So I’m not saying let’s not interview, right? Because the interview is crucial. It is crucial that will you could tell how that person communicates. 

Ricky Baez  08:34
But to answer your question, what kind of an organization might that look like? I don’t know, the military? Because that’s about it. Right?

Ricky Baez  08:43
Yeah, the military would be it, right? You’re just I’m not saying that people in the military are mindless because I used to be in the military, but you just need people to follow orders, at least when I was in. 

Pete Newsome  08:43
There you go.

Ricky Baez  08:54
Right now It’s a little bit different, but you need people to follow order. So you get that skill set, they’ll train you, we didn’t pay you to think we paid you to act.

Pete Newsome  09:01
Which I mean, listen, that’s a perfect thing to come up with. And I think that’s exactly what it would look like. I didn’t have that in mind when asking but hey we’re not here for your opinion. We’re not here for you to be innovative or creative or any of those things that companies actually do value and look for.

Pete Newsome  09:22
I think every organization wants to hire employees who are going to improve things, right, whatever that might be, make it better tomorrow than it is today. Except perhaps for the military when they just want you to do the job you’re hired for.

Ricky Baez  09:39
And do it the best that you can and if you don’t do it, God help you. You’re going to be in trouble. 

Pete Newsome  09:46
Alright, so go on, and then we’ll move on from this.

Ricky Baez  09:50
Well, I was going to say, coming back to the civilian sector. My personal opinion is chemistry matters. Personality definitely matters, it’s especially exactly how you said in the marketing space, right? Because people can put something on a resume. 

Ricky Baez  10:07
And I mean, we can take it as gospel comma, if I like what I see, come on in, because I want to make sure that how I interpreted the information, this person put that on the resume is exactly how he or she meant to put it. 

Ricky Baez  10:20
So I want to make sure that my interpretation is 100% correct before I pull the trigger on hiring that person. 

Pete Newsome  10:25
Okay good, alright. 

Pete Newsome  10:26
So we’ve got that box checked. So the other thing that you mentioned that I want to ask about is, that you said that you want to make sure the person has the minimal skill, you know, based on the job description in order to determine required skill?

Ricky Baez  10:39

Pete Newsome  10:40
So what about when they don’t? What about when they need to have, I’ll just say, 15, to 10, to 15 years of IT experience, they need to have been technical, maybe have a technical degree, worked in that area, manage the technical team, develop solutions, whatever it might be, for this CIO position that you’re hiring for. 

Pete Newsome  11:07
And they don’t have that. But they’re an amazing leader, maybe they are the best leader that you’ve ever encountered. Let’s say they’re already in your organization. 

Pete Newsome  11:17
So you don’t even have to take anyone else’s word for it. And you think, boy, this person would be really, really good to lead the IT organization, but they can spell IT, maybe. 

Pete Newsome  11:35
They know what it stands for. Is that a risk worth taking? And if so? Or? If not, why? If so? 

Ricky Baez  11:45
Man, Pete, these questions are spot on you making me think on a Friday? Why? Why are you making me think?

Pete Newsome  11:53
Because we’re behind microphones on camera? That’s sort of what we signed up for today.

Ricky Baez  12:01
It is right? No, so look, that’s a great question. 

Ricky Baez  12:07
Too many people focus more on the skill that’s on paper than anything else. But let’s say for example, following your question that we interview somebody, and they don’t have the skill set that we’re requiring, if I’m going to bring them on board, they have to completely blow our socks off in the interview with their personality and charisma,   but that’s a double edged sword. 

Ricky Baez  12:32
And we really have to be careful in making a decision like that, because here’s why. Here’s the risk you run in bringing somebody in to lead a group of individuals where this person has a little bit less skill set, technical wise, than the people they’re leading, you run the risk of the people not respecting that person’s authority. 

Ricky Baez  12:53
Right? Because how can that person possibly guide my work? Correct my work, correct me, give me feedback, give me coaching, if they don’t know what I’m doing, right? But if their charisma, if their motivation skills, if their ability to bring people together is that much higher, more valuable than the slightly less skill set that we’re looking for them, I think that’s a win-win. 

Ricky Baez  13:21
But if they’re even keel, at the very least, you’ve got to be able to bring in those minimum qualifications. Because you and I have had this conversation in the past and passing. When somebody starts in an organization at the bottom of the totem pole, they have to be incredibly proficient in their position, they got to be really technical. 

Ricky Baez  13:43
But if they’re not leading anybody, the people skills don’t necessarily have to be there. As you climb up that ladder of success. 

Ricky Baez  13:49
If you climb up that corporate ladder, and you start getting bigger teams, and people reporting to you, the less technical you have to be and the more people centric you have to become in order to manage or excuse me not manage in order to lead all those human beings to make sure you bring out the best in them. 

Ricky Baez  14:05
So I think it’s incredibly important to take a look at charisma and people skills. But if we’re going to pick that over technical skills it’s got to be humongous it’s in balance for me to actually pull that trigger.

Pete Newsome  14:18
Yeah, I think it’s a risk, that’s how I think I asked you, but I think it can be a risk worth taking for the right person. I think, the reason I said I’m a little biased from my own experiences with this where I think that there are people who do and there are people who manage and those are very different skill sets, they’re the best doers aren’t often very good managers. 

Pete Newsome  14:50
And that inverse of that can be true so you could be an amazing leader of an IT organization without being a very good technical coach attributor yourself now how you get that opportunity, when you haven’t risen through the ranks is a different question. 

Pete Newsome  15:07
But, you know, I think you don’t have to necessarily meet those minimum requirements, you don’t have to know as much as your team. 

Pete Newsome  15:16
And, you know, look, I’ll give you an example right now as time has gone by with the role that I’m in with 4 Corner. It was 15 years ago, I knew how to do the job entirely, but now I haven’t kept up with the tools we’re using. Now, I haven’t kept up with the software that we use. 

Pete Newsome  15:35
Now because I don’t do it every day, and so I could argue pretty effectively that a lot of what happens in our recruiting process today, I have not been equipped to do it myself. 

Pete Newsome  15:48
So I think that’s a natural evolution at times.

Ricky Baez  15:54
Yes, but you can spot when things don’t go the wrong way. So you have that background, you have that knowledge because I’m with you, maybe you don’t know the small details and ins and outs of the different processes as a recruiter. 

Ricky Baez  16:10
But you’ve been in this industry long enough. And you’ve had that 20,000 foot view strategically, you’ve had that experience where you can tell them something’s not right. And you can tell them where you have to make a left or right. It’s exactly how you set, It’s a natural evolution up in the corporate ladder, which people need to be cognizant of. 

Ricky Baez  16:31
And you can’t forget, especially when people keep going up and they get at the top look, I think wasn’t, oh my goodness, I forgot the name of the company. The Magenta cell phone. Oh my goodness, T Mobile. I think a couple of years ago, they got a CEO who’s never ever been in the telecom industry.

Pete Newsome  16:50
Is that the guy who’s always on Twitter who like is a chef?

Ricky Baez  16:55
No, no, the other guy he left. 

Pete Newsome  16:58
Okay, that guy John. I don’t know even why know that name. 

Ricky Baez  17:02
Because he is always on Twitter.

Ricky Baez  17:07
That is awesome. Hold on. I am so sorry, sir. For some reason. I got something. Here we go. All right. Somebody’s calling me something about work.

Pete Newsome  17:15
It’s that mail service getting around already.

Ricky Baez  17:18
Already, man, I do have a Groupon.

Ricky Baez  17:21
So I’m kidding, folks. I came out really fast. No, John Legere, now he’s a really good example because he has a big personality. And the reason you know that is because he has a huge presence on Twitter. And people resonated with him because they don’t see a CEO. They see somebody who enjoys cooking as much as I do. 

Ricky Baez  17:50
Somebody who enjoys this, that’s how we know him. To me, Pete, that is a really good leader. But he’s no longer there. He went through something else. And they brought somebody else in who’s never worked in the cellphone industry before. 

Pete Newsome  18:04
Oh, wow.

Ricky Baez  18:05
Yeah, and they’re doing good. I mean, I think they’re number three right now, I haven’t checked that in a while. But that’s a great example of depending where you go in any organization and what position you take, that if you got people under, especially if you’re leading executives, and you need those executives to act and have people under them to act, you’ve got to be one heck of a charismatic person to make that happen. 

Ricky Baez  18:34
Now, people are going to push back on that, because that insinuates that you only have to be an extrovert to be a really good leader. And that’s not true. 

Ricky Baez  18:42
There are some introverts who do the same thing. But they have a harder time doing that. Because more people react more to that charisma, that extrovert type of personality than an introvert. And I feel bad for the people who are introverts in those positions because they have to work that much harder to get that much out of their employees.

Ricky Baez  19:00

Pete Newsome  19:00
And I think the point that you make about the very large organization CEO is relevant in this discussion, where if you are managing a team doing the work directly, you probably have to know as much if not more than that team to help them but if you are managing the person managing the team. 

Pete Newsome  19:23
Now now you need to be more of a people person, have a feel for the situation, and offer guidance and leadership and mentorship that isn’t necessarily about the specific tasks that are being done, but more situational, I’d say transferable from one situation, one department, one industry to the next. 

Pete Newsome  19:46
And as you go up that chain, so the guy who’s running a cell phone company probably has absolutely no idea and never did know how a cell phone was made at any technical level conceptually, sure. But couldn’t, configure any part of that themselves. 

Pete Newsome  20:06
And so I think that’s probably the biggest factor in this, is how close are you to the work that’s being done versus managing the organization or the direction that the organization is going. And, so I think the closer to the work, the more knowledgeable, you probably have to be.

Ricky Baez  20:28
That is a great example that you just hit because you know, somebody to come into the top spot in any organization, their skill set needs to be a, are you able to turn this red into black? Number one? That’s what all CEOs want to know, which is, it’s that faster job how can you motivate your lieutenants, your executives to do the same thing with everybody else? 

Ricky Baez  20:53
So yes, I’m a frontline worker, I get promoted to be a team lead, but I still need to be proficient in what I’m doing. And now I’m dealing with personalities, I get promoted to a manager, somebody that was in the position that I just vacated. 

Ricky Baez  21:08
Now, I’m going to be less technical, and I have to be more people centric. And so the more you go up, the farther away you get, wow, that’s the further you go up, the farther away you get from the skill set and the things necessary to get you to where you are right now.

Pete Newsome  21:23
Yeah, I mean, I think that’s a solution.

Pete Newsome  21:25
I think we solve that right?

Ricky Baez  21:26
Now we solved it, I feel great I’m clocking out.

Pete Newsome  21:31
As you go up, farther at any organization, the job probably starts to look very similar from one industry to the next from one organization to the next, just like a small business has to do, every small business owner has to deal with payroll. 

Pete Newsome  21:45
And as they grow, they have to deal with the payroll, HR, rent, insurance, it doesn’t matter. And I’ve had discussions over the years with friends and some groups that I’ve gotten together with where other business owners, who we all have the same challenges with and we all, what someone in a completely different industry has to deal with really resonates because it’s, either about people or about growth or like I said, insurance, payroll, all these things that are common. 

Pete Newsome  22:20
And similarly, at a large organization, when you’re at the top right, it probably doesn’t matter whether you’re working in the finance industry or the auto industry at some level. It’s about dealing with issues that do transcend that particular industry that you’re in. 

Pete Newsome  22:38
So, man, I think, we know where we stand. So as you depending on how close you are to the work that’s being done, you have to put more value more or less value on this particular knowledge and skill, that that’s necessary and then act accordingly.

Ricky Baez  22:57
So at the end of the day, when you’re looking to hire, right, obviously depends on the position on what kind of skill sets you put more value on than the other, the more higher in the position you are looking to hire too. I hope that makes sense. 

Pete Newsome  23:15

Ricky Baez  23:19
It’s just coffee man. You know, folks, earlier before the show, Pete and I were talking about this coffee that I have, and it’s called Deathwish. And they’re not paying for sponsorship, and they’re not but oh my god, that thing gives you such a boost in caffeine. 

Ricky Baez  23:34
And I am just jittery. Anyway, what I’m trying to say here, Pete is that as you are interviewing as you’re looking for people, for your organization, the higher positions, you have to look for those people skills, right, really good people skills, and the lower position, you’ve got to look for those technical skills. 

Ricky Baez  23:56
At the end of the day, if you remember that, you’re going to end up with the right person for the right role every single time. 

Pete Newsome  24:04
Sounds good to me. Caffeine did its job and got to the finish line, Ricky. 

Ricky Baez  24:10
Roger that, awesome. 

Pete Newsome  24:12
Well, great. Well, thank you for listening today. Everyone have a great rest of your day and drive safe if you’re in the car. And as always, we’d love to hear any questions, comments or feedback, or ideas for new shows. Ricky, I did check. Just yesterday. We have a couple of questions that have come in. So I think we I think we’re due for a q&a episode, which we can do next week.

Ricky Baez  24:32
Yes, sir. I’ll be here.

Pete Newsome  24:35
Awesome. Well, thank you for listening. We look forward to connecting again soon.

Ricky Baez  24:41
Roger that. Have a good one folks. Drive safe and good night.

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