Rock stars need not apply

I wonder how we got started using the phrase “rock star” to describe awesome candidates. Who thought of it first? The hiring manager or the recruiter? Was it the candidate?

Rock Star

I’ve been thinking about how funny it is to post that you are looking for a rock star candidate or whatever variation you use in your posting promotions. Maybe “rock star” is a completely unappealing phrase to the person you are looking for, because my guess is you and your managers haven’t thought about the message you are really conveying. Now some positions do qualify for a rock star status candidate, but most do not.

I giggled at the first definition that came up of rock star because it says “famous and successful singer or performer of rock music”. Does anyone even make rock music anymore? I digress.. Rock stars are not created equally, so be careful what you wish for. Remember when David Lee Roth trashed a dressing room in Pueblo, CO because they were served brown M&Ms and Van Halen’s contract clearly stated the brown ones had to be removed? (Full disclosure: I don’t remember it, I’m not that old. I just read about it and yes I know it’s an extreme example and the clause in the contract actually served a valuable purpose, just let me pitch my challenge to you, okay?). These are the kind of strategic requirements that could be proposed to you by that rock star you think you must have. Think about this

  1. Not all rock stars create good music Just because you don’t like them doesn’t mean they are not a star, but its important to know that not every star will appeal to your taste or needs.
  2. Rock stars can be difficult to manage. Don’t just take my word for it, ask my boss. I’m a pain. I have clear-cut opinions on just about everything. I have no interest in doing things that I know I have no interest in. I haggle over everything. I prove my point any way that I can, which even means using his own words against him. I could continue this list of hard to manage qualities I have, but for the sake of your interest I’ll stop there and tell you this, if you leave me alone for 48 hours with the tools I want I will produce results. 48 hours is all I want… oh and let me shut my door, let me crank up my Nicki Minaj channel on Pandora, let me do it my way aaaand all those other things I previously mentioned. See what I did there?  (I kid, I’m definitely not a pain to manage).  Everybody’s results have a price, you need to decide is it necessary (and feasible) to pay the rock star price?
  3. Rock stars get bored.If you don’t have what it takes to keep a rock star entertained you are headed down a dangerous path. Sometimes it means letting the rock star do what they want to do and sometimes it means making sure you have challenges for the rock star in the workplace, at least now and then.

It’s important (recruiters) to know what your organizations needs are and to sometimes bring your hiring managers back in and give them a reality check. Can you afford a bunch of rock stars? What will a bunch of new rock stars do to your work environment? Can you really retain a rock star? Consistently good performing and reliable employees are great too, everyone cannot be a rock star. Maybe you do need to go out there and get a rock star, all I’m saying is don’t be surprised when the rock star behavior/attitude come along too.