One of the easiest ways to validate your fashion choices is to choose a designer label. It’s not a particularly well-made or attractive purse, but hey, it has those big letter “C’s”, so it must be stylish, right? St. John’s knit suits, 7For All Mankind jeans, Louis Vuitton bags—own them and you’re styling. Right?
Employers do the same thing. Hire that woman from GE. Snag the guy from Coke. Make the offer to the consultant from McKinsey. Employ them and you’ve unquestionably upgraded your staff. Right?
The truth is that hiring a designer employee can be a mistake as often as it is a success for a number of reasons:
• Skip the process. If you jump at the candidate with the good credentials without going through a careful hiring process– or any process at all — you’re likely to be surprised with what you get.
• Different environment. What made them successful at the designer company won’t work here at XYZ. I worked at a company that decided to bring in a team of Six Sigma Black Belts from GE. Unfortunately, without the infrastructure and a culture that understood the general charter, they failed miserably and the positions were eliminated within a year.
• Good companies have bad people too. I worked at a bank that was intent on hiring people from a competitor that had just been acquired by an even bigger bank. The executives asked my recruiting team to put together a list of any candidates that came from the competing bank. NOT hiring those candidates required an explanation to senior management. Unfortunately, many of those candidates were either victims of early downsizing or were seeing early indications that their new employer, the acquiring bank, wasn’t terribly impressed. My employer became the easy option to the unemployment line for many, many under-performers from our old competitor.
This isn’t a wholesale indictment on designer jeans or designer employees. Some work out just fine, but that’s usually for a reason beyond just the logo. Other times, it makes you look like you have (or are) a big fat ass.