007 recruitment lessons from James Bond

You can learn a lot from the secret agent on how to recruit across the employee Spectre-um.

by Rachel Davis
Last Updated: 25 Feb 2016

Q: I am your new quartermaster

Bond: You must be joking

Q: Why? Because I’m still wearing a lab coat?

Bond: Because you still have spots

Q: I’ll hazard a guess I can do more damage on my laptop, sitting in my pyjamas before my first cup of earl grey than you can do in a year in the field

Bond: So why do you need me?

Q: Every now and then a trigger has to be pulled

James Bond, the maverick, hot-headed British secret agent, and Quartermaster ‘Q’, the younger head of research and development, could not be two more different characters - from the nature of their work to their professional approaches.

Nuturing such differing personal and professional qualities is key to the success of Bond’s fictional missions, but also back in reality, where actively ‘recruiting for difference’ is rapidly becoming one of the most successful recruitment strategies.

001 - Identify the mission

Instead of simply replacing the current incumbent, recruit in line with the future needs of your organisation. The company of the future doesn’t necessarily need more of the same - in fact it’s more likely it doesn’t. Think about where the business is going and the skills you need to get you there to make sure your talent is aligned with strategy.

002 - Keep a GoldenEye on differences

Consider all types of behaviours when recruiting. This will help you go beyond the obvious recruitment choices of the sector and your competitors to embrace the spectrum of skills that will take your organisation forward.

003 - Think of the money, Penny

Traditional search and select recruitment can be expensive. Using a ‘whole of market’ approach to gather intelligence, via research and targeting passive candidates, can yield higher quality, lower cost results than the usual approaches.

004 - What's your cover story?

Consider how you are telling the story of your organisation to different audiences. Think about converging technology and skills. For example, lots of banks, industrial and tech companies want consumer skills that tend to be more readily available in consumer goods or sexier start-ups.

005 – ‘Oh James’

Be attractive to ‘Generation X’ – but also ready to receive the people who will deliver the change you want. If you want customer centricity or digital capability, and the ability to make quick decisions, then perhaps looks to retail. Ensure your structures and systems are designed to accommodate them. Industrial giants may, at least at the moment, be less able to deal with the snap decisions that retail are used to.

006 - Have a View to a Kill-er proposition

Get the insight to understand the habits, behaviours and aspirations of the most sought-after types of people. Lose the brand arrogance and build a proposition that appeals to Q.

007 - Leave the culture shaken, not stirred

Remember that hiring fresh talent is about coaching and preparing the existing culture, not about expecting bright, young talent to change the way they work. Seasoned professionals and the culture will need to adapt to welcome the next generation. But they shouldn't be stirred so much they all up and leave - shaken will do.

Rachel Davis is the chief operating officer of HR consultancy Armstrong Craven.

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