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What ’80s Films Teach Us About Finding the Perfect Candidate

say-anything-1040cs022412If you’re anything like me a friend of mine, you probably consider ’80s teen movies the source of some of life’s most valuable, eye-opening lessons: how looks aren’t the most important thing in life, that popular people have problems, too, and the healing power of Peter Gabriel and boombox…just to name a few.

The lessons of ’80s movies extend far beyond love and relationships, however. They also apply to recruiting. For instance, sometimes the perfect candidate for your open position is where you least expect: right in front of you (you just can’t see it).

Consider the following classic ’80s films, and let their lessons inspire you to find candidates in the last place you’d ever think you’d have to look.

The movie: “Some Kind of Wonderful”
The lesson: The “one” has been there all along.
Remember when Eric Stoltz taught the world to believe in love again when his character, Keith, finally realized that his true love wasn’t the girl he’d been chasing, but the shy best friend who’d been in front of him the whole time?

The lesson holds true for hiring managers: Sometimes the perfect person for the job may just be a current employee who needs a chance to shine. There are actually a lot of benefits to promoting employees from within: Not only do you save money (research shows external hires get paid more, but perform worse than those promoted from within), but you’ll save time since you don’t have to onboard current employees. As a bonus, promoting from within is also a great morale booster.

The movie: “Weird Science”
The lesson: Can’t find the perfect candidate? Create one.
Though things didn’t end up great for Gary and Wyatt after they decided to create the perfect woman, many organization have successfully started training candidates themselves and preparing them with the skills they need to fulfill necessary roles.

Coinstar, for instance, has created an internal learning management system to prepare employees to move ahead, while both Intel and McDonald’s have company-specific ‘universities’ where employees to go to learn new skills and develop existing ones. Other companies, like Learning@Cisco and Accenture, are reaching out to professionals in the community, training them with the skills they need to find a job or build a business.

The movie: “Back to the Future”
The lesson: Learn from the past and say “yes” to second chances.
What if you could get a second chance to connect with a previously-overlooked-but-possibly-perfect-for-you-now a candidate from your past? Just as Lorraine Baines learned about George McFly in “Back to the Future,” sometimes “the one” isn’t always so obvious at first glance.

How often have you revisited past applicants to see if someone who wasn’t quite right for an open position at the time might now be a good fit? If the answer is in the neighborhood of “never,” it’s time to revisit your applicant tracking system and follow up with previous candidates. You could unknowingly be sitting on a pool of untapped and overlooked talent.

Not taking advantage of your current applicant tracking system because it’s too outdated to rely on or too cumbersome to navigate? Consider using Talent Network, which takes the tedium out of tracking applicants, and makes it easier than ever to build and maintain a pipeline of talent - so the next time you have a position to fill, you don’t have to wait for qualified candidates to come to you. They’re already there.

Tell us: What’s your favorite ’80s movie? What lessons could it hold for recruiting?

Mary Lorenz

About Mary Lorenz

Mary is a copywriter for CareerBuilder, specializing in B2B marketing and corporate recruiting best practices and social media. In addition to creating copy for corporate advertising and marketing campaigns, she researches and writes about employee attraction, engagement and retention. Whenever possible, she makes references to pop culture. Sometimes, those references are even relevant. A New Orleans native, Mary now lives in Chicago, right down the street from the best sushi place in the city. It's awesome.
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