I see it all the time. Most SAP Leaders are just too risk-averse to hire the truly excellent.

If you really want to hire a Rockstar, don’t hire for track-record, at least not in the traditional sense.

Hire for momentum…

In my 15 years headhunting in the SAP space, I’ve seen a lot of hiring mistakes begin and end with the common misconception that the safest hire is one who has done the job before.

It makes sense. You want to hire an SAP Center of Excellence Director to lead a global effort to move to one globally scaled platform, it just makes common sense that you hire someone who’s got a successful track record of doing that very same thing with a similar company.

But if you hire for track-record, you’re missing one of the most critical components of hiring Rockstars, and that’s career trajectory.

Momentum.

You’ll never mistake me for the religious type, but this passage from the Bible, Matthew 13:12 contains this oft-overlooked facet of the human condition:

“For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them.”

In other words, winners keep winning.

The debate about this concept’s fairness notwithstanding (I believe it is, but I believe in meritocracies), it’s still one of the fundamental forces of nature. It’s the driving force behind the Pareto Principle, the famous 80/20 rule we are all familiar with.

80% of results come from 20% of the talent.

…and that 20% won’t stay still for long.

In my view, tracking a candidate’s career trajectory is one of the most important things you can do in an interview, because winners typically tend to keep winning, even despite the occasional set-back.

Make a conscious effort not to fall into the common trap of only hiring laterally. Most leaders hire safely; hiring someone who’s doing the same job for the same money at a different company, instead of hiring someone for whom this will be an upward move.

You’ll do better, more often than not, hiring the up-and-comer instead of trying to hire the proven commodity. The thing about proven commodities, is that they rarely make lateral moves. Or at least, not the Rockstar proven commodities.

Occasionally it might make sense for a Rockstar to make a move like this for extenuating circumstances, but what you’re looking for is someone who’s got momentum on their side.

This job will be exciting for them, and they’re going to have a chip on their shoulder wanting to prove that you made the right choice. Besides, Rockstars want to stretch themselves.

Give them room to stretch.

If you only hire laterally, you will rarely attract a Rockstar to your company.

I never said hiring Rockstars was easy…