This summer, I find myself in the blissful position of having a full staff. After a recent hire, a colleague at a competitor institution commented, “You’re so lucky…you have the admissions dream team in the state.” As the director of admissions, I never set out to create a dream team. But I know I have one. They are an amazing staff of dedicated and passionate professionals. Dream team is right, but luck had nothing to do with it.
Know what you want – For years, we thought we needed young alumni to serve as ambassadors for the University. After all, they have enthusiasm for the institution and can talk the talk of current students. While there is value in that, what I’ve found is that experience and passion for the profession is more valuable. Out of a staff of 8 regionally-based admissions managers, they all have two things in common. First, not one is a Tech grad. Second, they all had previous professional experience in admissions or higher education before joining our team. They love what they do and have come to love Michigan Tech in the process. So much so, that you’d never know they aren’t alumni.
Involve your current staff – When you find yourself having to post a position, ask your staff if they know others who would be a good fit for the team. After all, people generally like to work with people who have similar values and drive. Include staff in the interview process and ask for feedback. On our team, our staff not only work well together, they genuinely like each other! The synergy that comes from this is more powerful than a month of training (the wrong person).
Don’t settle – Make a pledge to yourself that you will not hire someone simply to fill a position. Go on. Find a viewbook for your left hand, raise your right, and do it. I’ll wait. Good for you! Several years ago, we made a decision to no longer settle. We would find the right person or we wouldn’t hire anyone. Even if that meant changing our business practice and redistributing the workload in the interim. I’ve also learned to trust my instincts—if there’s a red flag or an “I don’t know…” feeling about a candidate, think long and hard about why. Ask yourself if that person truly is the right fit for the team. If not, move on. Wait. Repost. The right person will come along and you’ll know who it is when you meet them.
I’ve learned through 18-years of work in admissions that others take notice of who serves as the face of Michigan Tech. For good and bad. I’m privileged to have leadership that supports my views and encourages the right hire. Our president is a strong proponent of Jim Collins’ view to get the right people on the right seats in the bus. Or in my case, the right driver for an SUV loaded with recruitment publications.