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CTO UK - West Midlands

Why you shouldn't hire clones.

Adam Farrell
・2 min read

We have all been there. One of your best employees hands their notice in and your stomach does a little flip as you know how important they are.

You try your best to see if you can do anything to keep them but they explain this is an opportunity they can't turn down. So your attention turns to trying to find someone to replace them.

You tell your recruiter we need another "Sarah"! You want someone with the exact same skills so they can come in and "hit the ground running".

Is this the right approach?

Pause for a moment and ask yourself why would someone move roles to do the exact same job they are doing now?

Of course, this does happen sometimes, for example, if someone has been made redundant.

If you did hire that person how long will it take for them to get bored doing the same thing they have done for the last 3 years? Probably not long. This will likely mean after spending 1 year to 18 months with you they start looking for something more challenging and will provide better progression opportunities.

Then you are left in the same place as they were before, looking to hire someone doing the exact same job because you need them to "hit the ground running". And so the cycle continues.

Still, the biggest reason I hear for people looking to move roles is so they can learn and develop. If you can't provide that to a candidate then it will cause more pain further down the line.

So rather than going for a like for like replacement consider if hiring someone who perhaps doesn't have all the skills just yet but has the potential, ambition and correct attitude to attain them. If someone has something to work towards or aim for my experience is that they are far more motivated in the position.

Yes, this will mean a bit more time is needed on your part but that initial investment will usually lead to a brilliant new employee. I have seen it many times where people in this scenario have gone on to be a brilliant contributor to the business and they have more loyalty and appreciation for the business as they have profited as well.

So, don't just mindlessly look for clones of your previous employees.
Look at your current roles and expectations. Are they realistic? Hire for potential.

Discussion (1)

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David Maidment

So true! And this provides a great opportunity for you to create a career ladder within your organisation: you can promote from within, then backfill the old role of the person you just promoted, maybe even filling that role with an internal promotion.