HR Insights, Recruiting and Staffing

Even a Caveman Can Do it: Hiring Lessons From Our Ancient Ancestors

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When you think of a group of people with good recruiting practices, it’s likely your mind doesn’t go back to prehistoric times.

Most cavemen probably did not draw stick figure resumes of their past hunting and gathering experience. Cavemen didn’t sit down for formal interviews to see how qualified a new member was to join the tribe. Sure, there was no video interviewing or talk of ROI back then, but there are still plenty of things we can learn from our elders.

Since most cavemen stayed with a tribe for life, clearly these ancestors knew a thing or two about how to recruit and retain talent. Plus, they were an inventive bunch. After all, if they weren’t looking for new ways of doing things we would be without fire and the wheel.

So put down your smartphone and pick up a club, because we’re traveling back in time to see what lessons we can learn from our ancestors.

1. Look for specific skills

Back in the caveman days, there were only a few professions. Either you were a hunter or you were a gatherer. Cavemen “hired” for these positions based on specific skills and qualifications.

We hire for a lot more positions now, but the same principles apply. Instead of focusing on a wide variety of skill sets needed, hone your focus down to the most important.

Look critically at your job description and decide on the aspects your ideal candidate should have. Is it the knowledge of a certain program or years of experience in your industry? Whatever is the most important aspect of the job, look for candidates with matching skills.

This niche recruiting technique will allow you to cut down on the amount of applicants you talk to, saving you time. Better still, it will allow you to focus on only the candidates most qualified for the position.

2. Recognize the importance of teamwork

In prehistoric times, cavemen recognized the importance of teamwork. After all, the lone cave-dweller was more likely to be the victim of something dangerous lurking in the shadows. In a group, cavemen were safer and able to more easily pool their resources.

The hiring process works the same way. No worker is an island and therefore no recruiter should be either.

It’s important to solicit input from those who will be working with the potential hire. Just because you think the candidate is great, doesn’t mean their direct superior will feel the same way. Utilize teamwork to hire the best candidate who will fit in and excel at your company.

3. Always check with a candidate’s former “tribe”

It’s extremely important to always check references. Just why did your candidate leave their former “tribe” for greener pastures? Maybe it was just to pursue new opportunities or maybe your candidate didn’t work well with others. References can tell you more about a candidate than a resume or even an interview.

Besides, you don’t want to get stuck in the same situation as Yahoo, who had to fire their CEO after finding a fib on his resume. Make sure your candidate is being honest by talking to those who hunted and gathered beside them at their former workplace.

4. Look for innovation

You might not think of innovation when you think about cavemen. But it was our hairy ancestors who found fire and invented the wheel. Cavemen recognized the value of invention and the power of innovation.

In the modern hiring process, innovation is more important than ever before. In an economy that is running increasingly on creative new ideas, you need to find forward-thinking hires. These individuals will be the ones bringing your company the next big thing and putting you miles in front of your competitors. Finding the next big idea can come as early as the hiring process if you look specifically for candidates with creative problem solving abilities.

If you brand your company as a creative workplace, this will in turn attract more creative hires. Whether this means inviting your candidates to interview via online video or even inviting them to square off against you in a video game, think outside the box to find great people. Who knows, one of these candidates might just make our ancestors proud and reinvent the wheel.

What lessons do you think we can learn from our cavemen ancestors when it comes to hiring? Share in the comments!

Josh Tolan is the CEO of Spark Hire , a video powered hiring network that connects job seekers and employers through video resumes and online interviews. Connect with Josh and Spark Hire on Twitter @SparkHire and Facebook.