Move Where The Puck Is Going To Be


About a year and a half ago, we placed an accomplished software developer in a job. He called us up recently and told us that he needed a replacement for himself because he was going to have a new set of responsibilities within the organization. What makes him unique versus a lot of other people is that he doesn’t ask, “How do we get this done?” but rather “What aren’t we doing that we should be doing?” or “What technology is going to be available soon that we can deploy?”

To him, it’s not about continually plugging away within the same market and trying to penetrate it. He instead thinks about other markets that are going to develop. 

His forward-thinking style reminds me of when hockey great Wayne Gretzky said, “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.”

Think back to when the iPad was first introduced. Sure, some people embraced it but if you recall, there were a lot of other people saying, “What is this and why do we need it?” There were a lot of questions at first. But before long, Apple was selling millions of them every quarter.

This comes from a combination of technical know-how to understand the kind of innovation coming down the pipe with the creativity to imagine how that new technology can be used to further the business.

In our business, we encounter descriptions from companies who think purely about a job to be filled and what the corresponding responsibilities are for that role. But the best jobs are really the ones where you don’t know what to do. That’s right! When you think about it, if it’s never been done before, how can you innovate? Otherwise, if it’s always been done the same way, at some point in time the role is going to become obsolete.

A lot of people we deal with are interested in doing things that are totally different from what they’re doing right now. As a recruiter, my primary job is to, of course, get what my clients want, such as employers. My secondary job is to find a job that a candidate will find exciting. Quite often, I have to create a picture for both parties to converge on. That doesn’t mean it’s a picture that either one of them exactly had in mind, but it’s something that both of them would be excited about. This is why I don’t like a lot of job descriptions. Why? They’re usually at extremes. Many of them are so vague and don’t tell us anything about the role or they’re far too specific on the job.

If someone is serious about looking for something else and they currently have a job, they don’t want to be doing the same thing in their next job. They want to be doing something else! So what we have to do is go beyond the limits of the job description. We need to gather information from the company and candidate, listen to what they’re both ideally looking for and often create an entirely different job description that takes both of them to a whole new place from where they were. That new place is of great benefit to both parties and probably something they could never reach on their own by thinking within the confines of the traditional job description.

In the recruiting world, a lot of companies say, “I’ll know the person is right for the role when I see them but I can’t describe it to you in advance.” Candidates will say a variation on this too, describing a job they’re not qualified for or can’t be easily verified in advance (“I want the people I work with to be friendly”).

Break free of the limitations of what’s been done before. As Steve Jobs said, “The consumer doesn’t know what they want until they see it.”


If you’re ready to be open to a new picture of the right candidate or employer that might be even better than what you originally imagined, it’s time to talk to Roy Talman & Associates at 312.425.1300 or email us at