Take a Hint from Baseball… Hire Utility Players for Your Company!
As our beloved St Louis Cardinals take the field in the 2013 World Series, I’m reminded of how much I admire the organization for continually hiring guys that can be versatile. It comes in handy year after year, as we have to reach into our bench to cover a player that’s been hurt or traded. Knowing your job and being the best at it is important, yes, but so is being able to step up and help out in another position when needed.
Just look at Matt Carpenter. Wikipedia has a great entry outlining Matt’s career to date. Matt’s natural position is third base. After being drafted by the Cardinals in 2009 and playing in our minor league system for a couple of years, the departures of Albert Pujols and Nick Punto, along with an injury to Allen Craig, opened up an opportunity at the end of 2011.
During Spring Training, he worked at first base and in the outfield to increase his versatility. His tenacity earned him a spot as a bench player and spot starter for the Cards in 2012, culminating in his first post-season home run during Game 3 of the 2012 NLCS (when he was brought in to the game to replace an injured Carlos Beltran).
In 2013, Carpenter showed his versatility once again by moving to second base, where he has been an outstanding starter. His offense has also been exceptional, and he led the Major Leagues in hits, doubles and runs during the 2013 regular season. Matt Carpenter has ended up being the Cards second baseman of choice.
While Matt brought great baseball skills to the table, I have no doubt that a big part of his success is due to his work ethic, attitude and desire to see the team as a whole succeed. After his home run in the 2012 NLCS, he was quoted as saying, “When guys get hurt, especially a guy like Carlos, sometimes that can be kind of a letdown from an energy standpoint as a team. I wanted to do something that would bring some life back.”
Now let’s translate this lesson to the business world.
I have been involved in the hiring process both as a job candidate and as a recruiter. As an employee, I have worked hard throughout my career to not only master the job skills required of my profession, but also to be someone that the “team” can rely upon to come off the bench when another “player” is hurt. Someone glancing quickly at my resume might incorrectly assume that I’m not very good at my job and therefore move around a lot.
But a closer look will show that I tend to be asked to take on additional duties within the company, and typically am wearing two (or three or four!) hats simultaneously. The ability to help my company brings me great pride and increases my knowledge set, and the company gets an employee that’s of great value – they know a lot about the internal workings of the company and they have proved to be vested in the company’s success.
As a recruiter, I definitely want to hire someone who has honed their job skills and brings a lot of experience to the table. Let’s face it, it’s nice to hire someone who already knows the job and just needs to learn your company processes/culture. However, I have been known to hire the candidate that was my #2 or #3 pick in the job skills category… all because they had that intangible “something” that told me they are a team player and will do what it takes to help the company succeed. In my experience, you can teach people skills, but you can’t teach attitude/drive.
Moving Matt from third base to (ultimately) second base was probably not his first choice; however, he’s run with the opportunity and exceeded beyond anyone’s expectations (except maybe John Mozeliak!). As a recruiter, I want to find someone with that same energy – an internal drive to succeed and a desire to help the company win no matter where that need takes them.
I hope you can use these ideas as you help your own company hire the best utility players in your field.
Good luck… and, of course, Go Cards!!