What Derrick Locke Can Teach You About Hiring Good People


What do you do when you hire someone? If you are like most managers, you probably look for a resume of someone who has already done whatever it is you need done. You don't hire auditors that haven't audited, managers that haven't managed, salespeople that haven't sold, or designers that haven't designed. You probably don't even hire people that have done what you need if they haven't already done it at a "high enough" level. For many positions, I think this can be a mistake.

Derrick Locke is a running back for the University of Kentucky. He was a high school track star who wanted to play Division 1 football as a running back. No one would take him. He was told he couldn't play Division 1 football. So he settled for a track scholarship and begged the coaches at KY to let him play football. Saturday afternoon, he led the UK running attack against the top ranked defense in college football. A guy who was told he couldn't play D1 football helped lead a victory over the best D1 defense in the country. If you hire the way I mentioned above, you may be missing out on a Derrick Locke.

Most people spend their lives just going through the motions. They don't want to push themselves, they don't want to learn or improve… sure, they say they want more out of their lives but they never take any actions to back up those words. Then there are the Derrick Locke's of the world. They know what they want, and they are willing to do what it takes to achieve their goals. How do you hire a Derrick Locke? You look for desire.

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Resumes are great. Psychological, personality, and intelligence tests are all great too. References are great. Past experience is great. But when I hire somebody, I look for desire. Not the frenzied "I need a job, any job, badly" kind of desire, but the desire to do exactly what it is I need somebody to do. I'll admit, those people are hard to find because they are rare, but when I see desire in a candidate, it trumps everything else. I'm a big fan of people who feel like they have something to prove. They work harder than everyone else. They are more interested in learning and improving. And eventually, they outperform their peers.

So when you look to fill an open position, keep in mind that hiring criteria that are too stringent may be shutting out someone who could lead your team to a business victory.