When Hiring, What Would Warren Do?

Buffett, that is …

Friends, the Dallas/Fort Worth economy continues to be strong. In January, the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas reported that DFW employment grew 2.7% in 2016—more than a percentage point faster than the state at 1.6% and the nation at 1.5%. DFW unemployment is a low 4.4%, which is below the national average.

Great, right? Well, hold on.

IMG_9010If you are an employer in need of strong employees, it’s not so great. Competition is tight, and that makes hiring key positions and growing your business much harder. In fact, in an article entitled “Attracting Top Talent A Top Threat to DFW Growth,” the Dallas Business Journal made a sobering point – the tight employment market makes for a small talent pool, and the tenuous viability of our future workforce is one of the top threats to North Texas’ continued prosperity.

So, for employers looking to fill open positions, what is the answer? Well, in this case, we need to channel Warren Buffett. Yes, thatWarren Buffett – legendary investor, businessman and manager.

In his famous 10% speech which he frequently delivers at college commencement addresses, Buffett lays out the three things he looks for when hiring people: integrity, intelligence and energy. His thoughts:

  • Intelligence is obviously the easiest of the three to identify. College performance, grades, test scores – these are all easy indicators of one’s ability. At some point, everyone you are considering hiring is intelligent enough to do the job. Intelligence is not enough in and of itself.
  • Energy as defined by Buffett is “being someone who takes initiative.” A person who makes things happen. A person who is entrepreneurial. A person who is willing to work.
  • But the most important of these in Buffett world is integrity. He stresses that an employee who does more than is asked, is honest and is generous, is worth their weight in gold.

So, if we are to subscribe to this theory, what does that mean for our hiring processes? In short, it means we have to think outside the box a bit more. If a candidate is smart, hard-working, and has integrity, it is worth taking a chance on them even if their skills aren’t exactly aligned with your job description.

Consider this: in the article entitled “Seek These 7 Character Traits to Avoid the Risk of Bad Hires,” the discovery of “hidden gems” by virtue of non-traditional hiring criteria is stressed. The story of John David King, COO of Fishbowl, was cited – prior to being hired, he had no prior experience leading a sales organization when he was hired 10 years ago. He did, however, have “heart, spirit and character.”

Something to think about, isn’t it?

So … don’t let the tight labor market get you down. Instead, ask yourself, “What would Warren do?”