Sign of the Times? How Does HR Go About Hiring Someone “Cool?”

Last week I was at the airport picking up a friend, and I overheard a discussion that two gentlemen were having about a company that is going through a major reorganization. Don’t ask me how, but if there is a discussion about HR going on somewhere within a 20 foot radius, I’ll pick up on it.

From what I could gather, the reporting structure and just about everything else was being reorganized in HR because of a recent change in senior level management.

This comes as no surprise because typically when someone new joins the “C” suite, the status quo no longer exists. Sometimes that’s a GREAT thing, and other times, well, for those who no longer fit in for one reason or another, it’s not so good.

The discussion progressed further and it appeared as though while some of the current employees would not make the cut, they needed to hire at the same time. Names of individuals started to be tossed out for consideration and for one reason or another I kept hearing “no.”

“The company wants to hire ‘cool’ people”

My ears really perked up however, when the response to one of the names was a resounding “oh no … the company wants to hire ‘cool’ people.”

Cool people? OK, now I’m intrigued but feeling slightly guilty that I am eavesdropping forced to listen to this conversation, in an airport no less, but I admit that I couldn’t wait to hear more.

Of course, I sat there trying to decide if I would be “cool” enough for them (pretending of course, that I knew exactly what skills, experience and behavioral traits they would be looking for). It’s human nature to question how we stack up against others. We learn how to do that early on in life and I don’t think it ever truly goes away no matter how confident you are.

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Can you create a culture of “cool?”

Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it), my friend stepped out to the waiting area after a long flight and I didn’t get to hear the rest of the story … but I haven’t stopped thinking about it since.

If a company is trying to create a culture of “cool” by hiring “cool” people, how do you go about doing that? Assuming that they understand that you can’t discriminate against race, gender, age, etc., what criteria WOULD they use? I guess I’ll never know.

So I’ll throw it out to you the readers. If you were charged with hiring “cool” people – what would you do? I would love to hear your thoughts.

This was originally published on Deborah Herman’s HR Optimist blog.

Deborah Herman is "Your Recruitment Business Partner" at DH Talent Strategies, LLC in Pompano Beach, FL. She's also a blogger at, and a HR professional with 20 plus plus years of director-level experience in staffing, marketing and employment communications. Deborah also serves as a District Director for HR Florida State Council. Contact her at