The Rare Find: Spotting Exceptional Talent Before Everyone Else

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One of the nation's biggest music labels briefly signed Taylor Swift to a contract but let her go because she didn't seem worth more than $15,000 a year. At least four book publishers passed on the first Harry Potter novel rather than pay J. K. Rowling a $5,000 advance. And the same pattern happens in nearly every business.

Anyone who recruits talent faces the same basic challenge, whether we work for a big company, a new start-up, a Hollywood studio, a hospital, or the Green ...

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The Rare Find: How Great Talent Stands Out

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Overview

One of the nation's biggest music labels briefly signed Taylor Swift to a contract but let her go because she didn't seem worth more than $15,000 a year. At least four book publishers passed on the first Harry Potter novel rather than pay J. K. Rowling a $5,000 advance. And the same pattern happens in nearly every business.

Anyone who recruits talent faces the same basic challenge, whether we work for a big company, a new start-up, a Hollywood studio, a hospital, or the Green Berets. We all wonder how to tell the really outstanding prospects from the ones who look great on paper but then fail on the job. Or, equally important, how to spot the ones who don't look so good on paper but might still deliver extraordinary performance.

Over the past few decades, technology has made recruiting in all fields vastly more sophisticated. Gut instincts have yielded to benchmarks. If we want elaborate dossiers on candidates, we can gather facts (and video) by the gigabyte. And yet the results are just as spotty as they were in the age of the rotary phone.

George Anders sought out the world's savviest talent judges to see what they do differently from the rest of us. He reveals how the U.S. Army finds soldiers with the character to be in Special Forces without asking them to fire a single bullet. He takes us to an elite basketball tournament in South Carolina, where the best scouts watch the game in a radically different way from the casual fan. He talks to researchers who are reinventing the process of hiring Fortune 500 CEOs.

Drawing on the best advice of these and other talent masters, Anders reveals powerful ideas you can apply to your own hiring. For instance:

  • Don't ignore "the jagged résumé"-people whose background appears to teeter on the edge between success and failure. Such people can do spectacular work in the right settings, where their strengths dramatically outweigh their flaws.
  • Look extra hard for "talent that whispers"- the obscure, out-of-the- way candidates who most scouting systems overlook.
  • Be careful with "talent that shouts"-the spectacular but brash candidates who might have trouble with loyalty, motivation, and team spirit.

Each field that Anders explores has its own lingo, customs, and history. But the specific stories fit together into a bigger mosaic. In any field, there's an art to clearing away the clutter and focusing on what matters most. It's not necessarily hard, but it requires the courage to take a different approach in pursuit of the rare find.

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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews

How-to for headhunters seeking raw, undiscovered talent fromtheNew York Timesbestselling author ofPerfect Enough.

With a maddening number of applications to sift through each day, how can a talent hunter be sure that the best candidate on paper is really the best one for the job?Anders argues that tomorrow's high-performing executives aren't necessarily found on the higher rungs of existing company ladders.In a digital environment driven by keywords,his guide offers a welcome lifeline for candidates who rarely make the top of the search results by taking arefreshingly personal rather than objective approach to making hiring decisions.Comparing the top performers in arenas like professional sports, Hollywood and the military to those with less glamorous occupations, Anders explains the subtler clues wise recruiters use to spot a future star—and charisma is not on the list. He offers fascinating insight into why companies like Goldman Sachs prize ambition over Ivy League educations and how Jeff Bezos scraped together his first million to create Amazon.The result is not so much a formula for finding talent as it is a mindset of being willing to take a risk on prospects with limited experience in order to create—not just poach—potential stars.

A lively and nuanced look at the hiring process.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781591844259
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 10/18/2011
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 6.26 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.03 (d)

Meet the Author


George Anders is one of the founding writers at Bloomberg View, specializing in opinion pieces a b out the U.S. economy, financial markets, and innovation. He spent two decades as a top feature writer for The Wall Street Journal, where he was part of a team that won a Pulitzer Prize for national reporting. He has also written for Fast Company, The New York Times, Parade, Smart Money, and Harvard Business Review. He is the author of three previous books, including the New York Times bestseller Perfect Enough, a biography of Carly Fiorina. He lives in northern California with his wife and two children.
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 25, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A Person's Core Character Central to Sniff out Talented New Hires

    George Anders sets himself the goal to show his audience how to discover what he calls the "Rare Find" before somebody else discovers him/her. For this purpose, Mr. Anders comes up with a process that is articulated around three premises: 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.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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