• Tuesday, June 18, 2024
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The Big Picture

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The mistakes people make in romantic relationships are often rooted in two things:

Having an undefined objective (Why do I want this person? What do I want this person for?)

Allowing for misunderstanding or misinterpretation (Are we both seeing the same version of events?)

In dating, these two oversights often result in what I call D&D: distress and distrust. Those emotions are familiar to many Nigerian business owners who have tried to staff their companies. However, at WAVE we have learnt that avoiding D&D is possible:


 In recruitment most of us start with a fundamental mistake: we don’t flesh out our objective. We come up with positions and then try to find people to fill those roles. Admin Manager. Receptionist. Cleaner. We forget that, because the work done by these people differs from company to company, those titles can be ambiguous.

The foundation of a successful recruitment effort is figuring out what we need so we have a clear picture of the JTBD: job to be done. Then, creating a list of tasks that will accomplish that goal. Completing the pieces of work from that list of tasks, frequently and capably, is what you require from your hire. It is literally “the job.” So, the write-up/articulation of that list of tasks is your job description. It is attuned to the specific set of duties dictated by the unique nature of your company.

A job description states what your needs are. If you do not know your needs, trying to find the people to fulfil them is a counterproductive exercise.


Fulfilling needs require skills. So, having figured out the JTBD (job to be done), you can now decide what capabilities are necessary to get that job done. Since you are now able to make clear requests, you are able to ask for clear competencies. You can demand specific skill sets for your specific context.

By making it clear to people what they need to have in order to get the job done, you filter out the ones who do not have what it takes.

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 After you have decided your wants and needs, it’s time to give and take. You want Competencies ‘A,’ so Task ‘B’ gets done well. Well, what are you offering in exchange?

When you ask a friend or family member to introduce you to a romantic prospect, you choose an emissary who can speak to your strengths and weaknesses. Your emissary goes to paint a picture of you to the person you are interested in, so the person can decide if you are worthy of their attention. The same scrutiny is at play in the hiring process.

You’re not just picking them; they are picking you. They are weighing whether what you can offer is as good as, or better than, the other options available to them. As a result, it is essential that you ask yourself this question: “Why should anyone want this job in my company?” Answer it honestly.


 When you have assessed what you have to offer,  you can now measure how you will provide it. Prospective employees’ decisions are based on a simple premise: “What’s in it for me?” (WIIFM). They need this question answered from the onset. The response you give to WIIFM  is your value proposition; the things you are promising to supply in order to meet the prospective hire’s demands.

You’ve looked at your business objectively and know what you bring to the table. You know what makes you attractive. Now, you are tasked with devising the way in which you frame your positive attributes.


 How you sell yourself is what makes or breaks your business. We all know this. We spend a lot of time creating our ‘sales pitch’ for clients/customers/investors. We do not do that for prospective talent. That is ironic because, without first communicating our appeal to competent hires, we deprive ourselves of the human capital to make good on the sales pitch we gave to the clients/customers/investors.

If you do not clearly communicate what differentiates your business, so people have the opportunity to accurately measure those differentiators against their motivators, you do both them and yourself a disservice. To be competitive, you have to understand and advertise the qualities that make you the most attractive choice.


If you do attract job seekers who fit your profile, you have reached the point where you have the power to pick and choose who is the best match. When making that judgment we usually prioritise competencies. Makes sense: need something done, pick someone who can do it.

Sadly, a hire having the necessary skill set is not the magic bullet. What is most important in hiring decisions is cultural alignment – the degree to which the person you have chosen can successfully deliver what you need, in the environment your business has created. It might sound like a mouthful but what you are measuring is fit, what we’d call ‘compatibility’ in dating.

Do your core values, beliefs, and behaviours line up with those of this person you think is ‘The One’? Or will the whole thing end in D&D and leave you right back where you started?

Ruth David is the Partnerships Coordinator at WAVE, an organization focused on rewiring the education-to-employment system to create a level playing field for every African youth to access the skills and opportunity to become what they imagine.