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Hire People for the Mission, Not Just to Do a Job

By John Lafleur 1 minute read

TL;DR: As technology and business landscape evolve so fast, look for mission-driven people that are perfectible and that have, above all, the right mindset.


“Men wanted for hazardous journey. Low wages, bitter cold, long hours of complete darkness. Safe return doubtful. Honor and recognition in the event of success.”

Rumor has it that Sir Ernest Shackleton used the copy above to recruit his crew for a South Pole mission. The British Explorer was very clear: the challenge ahead was anything but easy.

The actual expedition took more than five times the 120 days that was initially predicted. Nothing went as planned — it was a hazardous journey, for sure. However, everyone returned alive. The expedition demonstrated that Shackleton recruited the right team.

Though the ad has taken a life of its own — it has been quoted countless of times as a perfect example of how to recruit talented people — it has been deemed apocryphal. The curator of the Polar Research Institute at Cambridge keeps a bottle of Madeira to reward whoever can prove it otherwise.

Nevertheless, these words still strike a chord with people, even after all these years.

Lack of clarity about what drives people, not only affects recruitment efforts but engagement as well. Being too vague (“cookie cutter”), too ambitious (“laundry list”) or not honest enough about the challenge ahead, end backfiring.

As jobs continue to be disrupted, hiring people for a mission is more critical than filling open positions. Here are five ways to get you started.


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