Are You Hiring Real Rock Stars, or Just Pop Stars?

It seems like everywhere you look these days, people are aspiring to be rock stars.

Can you give a killer slide presentation? Then you’re a PowerPoint rock star! Are you especially gifted in dealing with people? Client Services rock star! Do you bite the head off a bat before board meetings? Well, you might want to cut that out, but you’re probably also a rock star.

We all want to be rock stars, and beyond that, we all want to hire rock stars. But how can you tell if a potential hire is the real, guitar-smashing deal, or the dreaded, pre-packaged, watered-down alternative?

First, we have to define the differences between our metaphorical musicians in order to understand what separates the rockers from the poppers. Grab your groupies and hop on the tour bus, because we’re going to begin with rock stars.

  • Rock stars are passionate about their work. There is no “off the clock” in a rock star’s world – they live and breathe the job, always thinking and always creating no matter where they happen to be. They draw on their own uniqueness to establish themselves in the industry, and aren’t afraid to apply a different approach to how things get done.
  • Rock stars are flashy because of their genuine ability to perform. In order to come by the tight pants and big hair honestly, you have to have the goods to back it up. A true rock star can show off what he’s got simply because he’s actually got it. The onstage pyrotechnics and billowing fog machines are only highlighting the extraordinary talent that already exists.
  • Rock stars know when they can break the rules. OK, so, “breaking the rules” for a rock star might involve smashing guitars and demolishing hotel rooms, but it’s the concept that counts: pushing the envelope and challenging traditional parameters. Rock stars often do this through their music (otherwise, we’d all still be listening to stuff like “The Pennywhistle’s Greatest Hits”), just as a rock star hire would use his or her skills to redefine the rules for the benefit of your company. Now it’s time to put your lighter away and join a gaggle of screaming, swooning teenagers as we take a look at the rock star’s more … lightweight counterpart, pop stars.
  • Pop stars are in it for the glory, not the guts. They’re all about reaping the rewards but not so much about putting in the blood, sweat, and tears to get there. If there’s a shortcut, a pop star will take it, especially if there’s the promise of personal gain in sight.
  • Pop stars are flashy without any substance beneath the sparkle. Unlike rock stars, whose flash is a byproduct of their innate talent, pop stars manufacture flash to get your attention — but that’s about all they can do. It doesn’t take you long to realize that they’re all bark and no bite, and don’t have much to offer beneath the surface, as dazzling as it might be. Pop stars are often nothing more than an illusion – a carefully constructed and hyper-styled illusion – built on a very minimal amount of raw talent.
  • Pop stars market to the system as a cover for mediocrity. While a rock star boldly presents his or her music to the masses with a take-it-or-leave-it mentality, pop stars don’t dare produce anything but people-pleasing material, often at the expense of quality. They give the people what they want, but it’s fast-food fare – instant gratification with no lasting value. The bigger problem, though, is not that the pop star’s work is mediocre, but that mediocre is the best they can do. It’s impossible to hold a pop star to a higher standard when the ability just isn’t there.

Clearly there are a wide array of both rock stars and pop stars in the working world, and it’s not hard to see which would be the most beneficial addition to your team. Recruiting can often be an experience as dynamic as the music scene itself, but being able to separate the rockers from the poppers can help to ensure a smoother process.

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And for those about to hire, we salute you.

This article originally appeared on The Resumator Blog.


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