27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Rare Book About Hiring in Today's Intelligent World
I've hired a bunch of people in my time, and I've learned this: Hiring a "B" player is easy; hiring an "A" is much tougher. So, I'm always looking to understand how to find that haystack needle -- the person who's going to help lead my little organization into places I hadn't even considered. After all, most of us aren't making widgets any more, but we're paid to think...
Published on October 18, 2011 by Kevin G. Salwen
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good find but could be better
3 stars for a good book. Well worth a read.
First of all, the book is well written and easy to read. So why only 3 stars? Well, to me, the second half of the book (chapter 9 onwards) is much better than the first half. While the anecdotes that fills up much of the front half of the book were interesting, I found it difficult to draw any solid conclusions from...
Published 14 months ago by Lawrence
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Rare Book About Hiring in Today's Intelligent World,
Frankly, that's why I love this book. Anders, a former Wall Street Journal reporter and editor, takes us into hiring environments we never would see -- the U.S. Army's Special Forces, Facebook's puzzlers, a casting director. There's fun story-telling here (I love how the hiring director of the Special Forces provides exhausted soldiers with too few pieces of chicken at the end of the day to see how they will work together).
More importantly, with a palette that colorful, Anders teaches us critical ways of viewing potential hires. While some of the info he gleans isn't all that new (i.e. appreciating failures), most of The Rare Find is filled with smart, fresh tips. My favorite is the "jagged resume," which takes us to the heart of the modern, thinking economy. Anders shows how smart managers recognize the elements a potential hire has garnered from detours, missteps, even vacations. Each of those nuggets contributes to how the best, most thoughtful hires will bring critical skills to a new job.
My copy of this book is filled with underlines and dog-ears. Don't ask to borrow it -- I'm keeping this one.
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Many Faces of Rare Talent.,
I suppose I should have known better. Having read Michael Lewis' "Moneyball" (which I recommend) about the use of innovative approaches in finding exceptional baseball players overlooked by most major league teams, I should have realized that the topic can be made compelling. Like Lewis, Anders has woven the real-life stories of people and organizations into his discussions of what works in finding rare talent.
For example, when the U.S. Army's elite Special Forces look for those soldiers who will become effective Green Berets, they don't simply look for the most exceptional cases of physical strength and endurance. Physical capabilities are essential, of course, but they aren't necessarily enough. It turns out that watching small teams of Special Forces candidates try to move an old, rusted trailer a few miles can be very revealing about the leadership, persistence and flexibility components of the job. As the reader of this book becomes engrossed in the descriptions of the soldiers' efforts, through their stories the reader learns something about finding the key components of success.
This book is literally one seemingly unique (yet pattern-forming) story after another. There's the story of the remarkable success of the University of Utah's legendary graphics team, composed in large part of people who didn't fit well elsewhere. There's the story of how innovative organizations like Facebook found creative ways to compete with much larger companies that could devote countless hours to interviewing potential employees. For example, faced with the need to rapidly scale up their company, Facebook created innovative programming challenges ("puzzles") that it posted on its website. These puzzles were not like the famous brainteasers reportedly used years ago by big software companies (for example, "How many gold balls could you fit in a Boeing 747?"). Rather, Facebook's puzzles took hours of creative, innovative programming, and that's exactly what they were looking for. Unsurprisingly, they found a number of overlooked people in unexpected places, like Portland, Maine, for example. Indeed, a central message of this book is that exceptional talent doesn't always look to be quite so exceptional, until you look much closer.
The stories just keep on coming. Some involve people you may have heard of, like Yankees relief pitcher Mariano Rivera, Harry Potter author J. K. Rowling, or country singer Taylor Swift. These exceptionally talented people were not obvious stars from the beginning. Their stories are fascinating, and through them the reader continues to learn about the process of finding rare talent. Some of the organizations described by Anders, like Teach for America or Johns Hopkins Hospital, are also well known, and their stories about finding exceptional talent are also compelling. There's more--much more--but hopefully you can see how the author has used a lot of research regarding rare individuals in order to weave a compelling narrative. If the subject of finding rare talent interests you, this book is worthy of your consideration.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good find but could be better,
First of all, the book is well written and easy to read. So why only 3 stars? Well, to me, the second half of the book (chapter 9 onwards) is much better than the first half. While the anecdotes that fills up much of the front half of the book were interesting, I found it difficult to draw any solid conclusions from them. To me those stories only reinforced that there are rare talents but not how to identify them. My feeling is most readers, like me, would have known that already else they wouldn't be reading the book. Fortunately, the author does draw everything together in the final chapter of the book, distilling all the evidence and research into several clear and concise insights that fulfill the promise of the book. I would suggests new readers read the last chapter first; that way all the anecdotes will serve to reinforce the conclusions and I think you will get more out of the book. (as a reader of non-fiction, I'm not looking for a big payoff at the end of the book, so I'm not sure why the author felt he needed to withhold all the conclusion until the end like a fiction writer. I just want to get all the useful info out of the book as efficiently as possible.)
Also worth mentioning is that the book also provide ideas on how to KEEP the rare talents; talented people needs to be challenged. So in that sense, i hope this review can help the author improve on his next book.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 'Why didn't I think of that?',
Here's a summary of the key points from the book:
(1) The top performers in a field tend to FAR outperform everyone else, so it's worth the extra effort to try to find, recruit, and retain them.
(2) A key step (often overlooked) in searching for top candidates is to clearly understand the real requirements of the job, then match people to the job and the organizational culture. Simplify the search process by focusing on these real requirements, rather than trying to apply universal/general evaluation criteria, or just evaluating what's easy to evaluate.
(3) To find top candidates, consider looking in unusual places overlooked by others. This includes considering people with atypical 'jagged resumes'.
(4) In many fields, where high levels of performance are sought, future performance is correlated more strongly with character than experience and academic test scores, assuming that test scores at least reach a 'good enough' threshold. Character traits to look for include perseverance, resilience, adaptability, self-reliance, creativity, curiosity, motivation, emotional stability, ability to work in teams, and leadership ability.
(5) To evaluate character, test by people by 'auditioning' them in simulated challenging problem-solving situations, and pay as much attention to their work process and attitude as their results.
(6) Focus on people's future potentials, not just their current capabilities. Give priority to 'what can go right' (upside potential) when the downside risks are small (eg, idea people). Give priority to 'what can go wrong' when the downside risks are high (eg, CEO).
(7) During the interview process, be a great listener, picking up nuances and reading between the lines. Keep asking probing questions, digging ever deeper and not settling for standard answers. Ask about past obstacles and failures and how candidates dealt with them. Also, if possible, try to stretch out the getting-acquainted period.
(8) Draw on your personal experience to help evaluate candidates. Trying to be 'neutral' simply wastes a valuable resource.
(9) After hiring, for people who are inherently motivated towards high achievement, push them and give them challenging work they enjoy, rather than coddling them or giving them 'easy' work.
(10) Remember that identifying top candidates and helping them reach their potential has a social value which goes beyond the interests of the individuals and organizations involved.
As a corollary to all of this, one important point which is implied but not explicitly noted in the book is that, when recruiting for more routine jobs where there's little or no growth path, more 'ordinary but competent' people may be a better fit than people who are driven to 'be all they can be'. The latter will likely become bored and move on.
Again, an excellent book, and highly recommended.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Person's Core Character Central to Sniff out Talented New Hires,
1. Widen one's view of talent;
2. Find inspirations that are hidden in plain sight; and
3. Simplify one's search for talent.
The candidate's core character is central to this quest. The nine character traits that matter the most to the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) when choosing new agents are a good template to be used in this quest. These nine character traits are initiative, perseverance, compatibility, discipline, trainability, judgment, loyalty, leadership, and maturity. Mr. Anders often touches on these personality traits when he examines how the best talent recruiters from the public and private sectors proceed to find these rare "birds" that make all the difference between success and failure. Mr. Anders relates the experience of recruiters from the Green Berets, the music industry, new start-ups, multinationals, or hospitals, to name a few sectors of activity.
In summary, Mr. Anders gives some useful tips to his readers to broaden their horizon while being systematic in their search for the "Rare Find" that is too often hidden in plain sight.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Useful Perspectives for Hiring -,
Examples: Resilience and ingenuity are key attributes searched for by Special Forces' candidate evaluators in their many physical tests (eg. figuring out a way to move a disabled trailer). Motivation hints can be found observing which players run to the huddle vs. those that dawdle, which pats a teammate vs. those that stay aloof. Testing tenacity via extended marches with little sleep works well for the military.
At G.E., 140 rising stars are drawn into an elite auditing/consulting program each year and then sent on four-month projects around the world. Participants need to not only get the numbers right, but also make allies in a hurry so their recommendations won't be ignored. Weekends and evening work is required. The program begins with two years as a roving auditor; an elite cadre then spend another 1 - 3 years as top audit guns. Those who withstand the geographic relocations associated with that phase are likely to emerge as its highest leaders. In the non-profit world, finding those committed to a cause is important - eg. the Peace Corps.
The book is filled with similar useful concepts and examples.
10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Absolutely Compelling Book,
The Rare Find provides a rare experience, an experience where the three hours enjoying this work naturally segues into many more hours of thoughtful contemplation of its important themes. Do not miss this book.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stories on Finding Talent. Practical & Inspiring.,
The Rare Find tells stories about people and organizations and how they come together to find the right characters to help develop and further the plot. After all, everyone has a story to their career, so what better way to explore insights into hiring the right people than to use stories? This is exactly what The Rare Find does in a well-written way.
The Rare Find is not a conventional book that outlines a specific number of steps on how to find great talent. Instead, it weaves together stories that highlight ideas and real approaches. It is very practical for organizations while being inspirational for talented people looking for the right opportunities. The Rare Find serves both audiences very well.
It takes extra effort to really understand what a person may bring in terms of talent to an organization. Some approaches that come through in the stories are:
- Read resumes from the bottom up to gain insights into a person's story and character traits.
- Explore those elements that may show resiliency or determination.
- Study yourself and determine why you have been successful. Look for similar traits in others.
- Examine the capacity of a person to learn and grow.
In many ways, The Rare Find is an unconventional read. The book adheres to its own advice of being a little different in exploring how to find and hire the right people.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A remarkable tour de force,
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well-written and insightful,
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The Rare Find: Spotting Exceptional Talent Before Everyone Else by George Anders (Hardcover - October 18, 2011)
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