Need and Want have different meanings in hiring, and understanding this is critical.  Each can be appropriate and each requires a unique approach to ensure a successful recruiting process.  It is important to know the difference when you are seeking to fill key positions.

The individual you need has the ability to do what is required to be successful in the role.  She will be a strong performer because of knowledge, skills and experience.  A contributing member of the organization, her presence will be a positive.  Hiring her is a good choice.  Finding people like this, and attracting them, is a challenge.

Then there are times when you want someone. This is when you are looking for a person who will deliver more than just what you need.  You’re looking for the game-changer.  If the Board of Directors has to find a new CEO, they need a competent, experienced person who can deliver the business strategy.  Depending upon the situation, they may actually want someone who can give them more, perhaps by introducing a new strategy altogether.  Hiring them can be transformational to your organization.

The “something extra” is usually specific experience and specialized knowledge, combined with strong personal characteristics, giving accelerated impact on the organization.  This requires searching beyond the job requirement to find the desired specifics in the individual’s background.  It takes an extremely thorough and rigorous process to identify and attract that person.

We recently helped a client fill a key role with the candidate they wanted.  The process began by focusing on what they needed – individuals that were qualified.  These individuals could do the job, and do it well.  They were successful in their current role.  There was little doubt they would be effective in this role.

We then “fine-tuned” to focus on identifying individuals who offered even more in terms of industry and product experience.  This was a much “deeper dive,” with targeted research that enabled us to identify individuals with specific experience that exactly fit the client’s organization, culture and vision.

It took a lot of effort to do this.  Many in our industry would have been happy presenting candidates the client needed – people who would be successful.  From our discussions with the client, we felt that left the process short, so we kept digging.  We found the person they wanted, someone who had been in their industry, but left a number of years previously.  Someone who had prior experience in the client’s current business and specific brands.  Then we helped that individual examine their career and determine this role was an idea opportunity.

I am quick to admit that not every role filled needs this much precision, but most important ones do.  In this instance, we delivered the needle in the haystack, not through luck, but through our process.

Our client has written: “Any search Larry helps us with results in us hiring the right candidate, within budget and within the expected timeframe.  Without exception, their search process has delivered candidates who fit the profile we have targeted.”

If you have a challenging position that is proving difficult to fill, perhaps we should have a conversation.  Click here to learn about Shoemaker & Associates and our process, which helps reduce your risk in recruiting.


Larry Shoemaker is President of Shoemaker & Associates/Cornerstone Atlanta.  He helps organizations identify, recruit, assess and retain talent.  He is also President of Cornerstone International Group, a global retained search organization comprised of about 70 independently owned offices located around the globe, with headquarters in Shanghai, China and Atlanta, GA.  He holds an International Coach Foundation ACC Credential.