Why we need Rhett Butler as a hiring authority


Image by Khinson

Hiring authorities are taking longer than ever to fill vacancies, the New York Times recently reported.  Candidates interview five or six times and leave empty-handed. Sometimes the jobs never seem to get filled. I know that on LinkedIn I have seen a number of  ads for the same journalism jobs  pop up again and again — for more than year. In case you haven’t heard, there are plenty of unemployed journos dying for full-time work. What’s up with that?

Blame it on the glut of candidates. The more choices we have in life, the harder it is to choose. “We don’t know our preferences that well, says behavioral economist Dan Ariely in a TED Talk back in 2009. This is why we need Rhett Butler. He’s a guy who finally figures out what he wants and acts  on it. Ariely explains:

We have an irrational compulsion to keep doors open. It’s just the way we’re wired. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to close them. Think about a fictional episode: Rhett Butler leaving Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind, in the scene when Scarlett clings to him and begs him, “Where shall I go? What shall I do?” Rhett, after enduring too much from Scarlett, and finally having his fill of it, says, “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.” It’s not by chance that this line has been voted the most memorable in cinematographic history. It’s the emphatic closing of a door that gives it widespread appeal. And it should be a reminder to all of us that we have doors—little and big ones—which we ought to shut.

Dan Ariely, Predictably Irrational

So, dear, Hiring Authorities, choose a candidate. Close the door on the others.

Just for fun, here’s Ariel’s hilarious TED talk on how we let outside forces control our decision-making, largely because we just don’t know what we want or we get too vermischt when presented with more than two choices. Word to the wise: Before agreeing to surgery, demand your doctor present all the other choices he is rejecting!