5 Candidate Recruiting Lessons from Holiday Movies

12.8.2020 | If Buddy the Elf walked into your office, would you hire him?

Many of our favorite feel-good holiday movies include timeless lessons about talent acquisition. LinkedIn’s Talent Blog has showcased these in recent years and we’ve picked our favorites that speak directly to candidate recruitment. So find a comfy place, wrap your hands around a warm drink, and binge watch these movies without guilt.

And yes, you should definitely hire Buddy the Elf.

1. Home Alone: Don’t underestimate young, inexperienced candidates

Everyone overlooked Kevin: at just eight years old, he lacked experience and didn’t have many accomplishments to his name. Despite that, he proved to be extremely capable, clever, and resourceful.

Facing a disrupted work environment, Kevin took initiative, showed superior planning and problem-solving skills, and easily out-maneuvered his older competition.

Like today’s Gen Z employees, Kevin works well independently and values security and stability. Despite his age—perhaps because of it—he’s able to pivot, innovate, and do whatever it takes to earn that sense of security.

2. Elf: If you think a candidate doesn’t “fit” in with the culture, that’s not necessarily a bad thing 

When Buddy first walks through the doors of the New York publishing company where his father works, he sticks out like a sore thumb. Even after his dad finds him a more work-appropriate wardrobe, he doesn’t seem like a great fit for the stiff corporate culture. He doesn’t even like coffee.

But after Buddy is reassigned to the mailroom, his hidden strengths start to become apparent. He’s creative—and great at rallying a room.

Ultimately, Buddy’s boss realizes he’s a huge asset to the company, and Buddy goes on to write a critically acclaimed children’s book. His brings a perspective that none of the other writers have; his childlike wonder makes him an expert in tapping into the mindset of kids.

Sometimes candidates who don’t seem like they’ll fit in at first prove to be a company’s top performers, precisely because they bring something new to the table.

3. Die Hard: Candidates with grit can overcome almost any adversity

While attending a holiday party on Christmas Eve, John McClane runs into some unexpected adversity: the building is taken hostage by terrorists. (Talk about a stressful workplace.)

Proactive as he is, John leaps into action and overcomes his hurdles by thinking on his feet, facing every challenge, and running back into the fray despite the occasional setback—pure grit.

Sure, he gets himself into some pretty tight situations—but he never gives up. That’s the kind of grit that makes John a great candidate for almost any workplace. Gritty candidates aren’t always the most polished, but they shine when the going gets rough.

4. Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer: Diverse teams do better, but biases persist

Rudolf was a model candidate, but he didn’t exactly look like the rest of the workforce.

Reindeer, like humans, are apparently hardwired for bias—we tend to unconsciously think people like ourselves are better than others.

Whether a candidate looks differently, thinks differently, or just seems like an unconventional oddball, don’t be so quick to discount them.

Diverse teams do better—precisely because of their differences, as Rudolf eventually proves.

Recruiters shouldn’t wait to combat bias and diversify their teams now, even though it took a low-visibility blizzard for the North Pole to finally embrace a culture of belonging.

5. It’s a Wonderful Life: The profound impact that a great team player can make on your culture

An outstanding hire can have an outsized impact on your entire organization. Great team players make everyone around them better—but it’s not always obvious.

Take George Bailey. He wasn’t the most attractive candidate on paper: his business was failing, he berated his co-workers, and the workplace stress was seeping into his home life.

After performing a self-evaluation, he even started looking for an early exit strategy.

What he couldn’t see was the impact he had on everyone else—while his personal achievements didn’t leap off the resume, he was an extraordinary team player who helped everyone he worked with.

With the help of Clarence, an outside consultant sent down by the boss, George was able to see the impact he had on those around him. Without him, the work culture in Bedford Falls was simply unrecognizable: his local branch had shuttered, ethical best practices were abandoned, and morale was at an all-time low.

George comes back to business with a new lease on life and a fresh perspective on his own impact. In short order, he had rallied the whole community to support his business, bringing in some much-needed cashflow.

It just goes to show how a candidates’ impact can’t always be judged by their individual achievements. Remember to assess candidates for teamwork and get references from co-workers, not just their bosses. Hiring a great team player can add value that reverberates throughout your organization, making everyone better.

Adapted from LinkedIn blogs, “5 Recruiting Lessons from Your Favorite Holiday Movies (the sequel)” & “5 Recruiting Lessons from Your Favorite Holiday Movies.”

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