This Recruiter’s Perspective on Donald Trump as a Candidate

Whether Republican, Democrat, Independent, Libertarian, Green Party, Constitution Party or Don’t-Give-a-Damn, you likely paid more attention than before to the events leading up to and subsequent nomination of Donald Trump.  Early on, many thought he wasn’t a threat, just a joke, wouldn’t get far, and now he has a chance to the next POTUS.

Like most of the world, I’ve watched this all unfold.  Sometimes intrigued, sometimes confused, sometimes entertained, but mostly disgusted.  Initially, I was one of the people who put him in the “just a joke” category and believed the novelty of his absurdity would wain as quickly as the latest hashtag challenge.

As months passed and it became evident that he was NOT going away, I began to think about the situation more critically.  From a recruiter perspective, Donald Trump winning the Republican nomination is not unbelievable.  In fact, there are aspects of his rise that mirror the recruiting lifecycle.

A few years ago, I was responsible for executive hiring for an organization.  There came a time when we had to replace a division leader who was retiring and the shared belief was that the person who was next in line on the succession plan would assume the role. As such, we didn’t bother to actively recruit for the position internally or externally.  To everyone’s surprise, that person had other plans for their career and left the organization.

Now we were scrambling, trying to fill a position in a few weeks that should take several months.  We looked to others who were further down the list on the plan but realized that the level of investment and development put into the person at the top was not afforded to them.  As such, we expanded the search outside of the organization.

There are definite similarities in the way that Donald Trump arrived at the forefront of the Republican Party. The preliminary candidate pool that included 16 other hopefuls suggested that someone who looked better on paper would win the nomination.

A former Governor whose father and brother held the office…because nepotism.

A Business Woman…because equality

A Black Surgeon…because diversity.

Four former Governors, four current Governors, one former Senator, and four current Senators…because politics.

Some employers don’t know what they are looking for until they “see it”.  If there was a formal job description outlining the “what will you do” and “what you should know” for the job of President, Donald Trump would not be an ideal candidate. His success and popularity can be largely attributed to the fact that he boldly espouses a bigoted ideology that a good number of Americans kept secret.

Far too many times, I’ve received job descriptions from hiring managers that don’t provide realistic expectations for the work that will be done.  They aren’t performance based. They’re too long, too generic and riddled with boring buzz words. They’re written in a way that says, “just throw it out there and see what you get back”.

Apply for the job even if you don’t meet all of the requirements.  Even those that support Mr. “You’re Fired” can agree that he doesn’t come across as “presidential” and he lacks political experience.  The core skills that made him a successful businessman will likely not be transferrable to the presidency.

While it’s not a bad practice to encourage job seekers to do so, in many instances our intended messaging is not what’s received.  Instead of candidates that have enough to work with, those that can be developed, we wind up with people applying who can’t perform the essential duties and responsibilities of the position. This is a waste of the candidates’, the recruiter’s, and the hiring authority’s time.

There’s a candidate selection in mind by the time you reach the interview stage.  Donald Trump was already the presumptive nominee by the time delegates gathered for the Republican National Convention.  Yes, there was some opposition, but there was as close to no chance as one can get to someone else garnering the nomination.

At times, the actual interview is just a health check; a way for the interview team to validate the decision that they made during a period of down-selection.  In these instances, employers are only following a process by interviewing a certain number of candidates to remain compliant.  However, it is possible, even with a top candidate in mind, for one of the runners-up to come from behind and win the job offer as a result of an exceptional interview or for the top candidate to completely bomb.

In trying to stick to an unrealistic timeline that resulted from a mixture of a failure to adequately plan and forecast future needs, not realizing that the job itself was part of the problem, and panicked desperation, my former employer made a poor hiring decision.  The innovative, outside the box ideas that the hire promised could not be executed.

We should have started over with a new candidate slate. The time it would have taken to fill the job with the best hire would have cost us less than what it did to correct a bad hire.  If only we could elect politicians the same way we recruit and hire candidates into organizations.  Maybe that would give more people time to realize that “Make America Great Again” is racist, sexist, xenophobic, narcissistic, extremist rhetoric masked as leadership and diplomacy.

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M Puglise

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