August 20, 2014

We Recycle the Same Talent? Ah, Contraire, Mon Frère!

By: Claire Kittle Dixon

Claire Kittle

One of the lamentations I often hear from hiring managers in the free-market movement is “We recycle the same talent over and over.”

As they say in Yiddish, ah, contraire, mon frère!

Our movement is increasingly turning to other sectors to find individuals for critical roles.

Fun fact: 63% of Talent Markets placements are from outside of the free-market nonprofit sector!

I take every chance I get to encourage clients to consider hiring from outside of our universe. Doing so drastically increases the talent pool, gives us a chance to learn from other sectors, and allows us to benefit from new, amazing talent.

Sam Cosby is a perfect illustration of this point.

In early 2012, Sam was soliciting major gift funding and corporate support for public radio and television. His boss loved him, but Sam didn’t love the job. An ardent free-marketeer, Sam gave his boss notice and set out to find a job that would allow him to use his skills and be morally content. That’s when our paths crossed.

Our good friends at FEE (thanks, Carl Oberg!) connected Sam with Talent Market. We were in the process of helping the Beacon Center of Tennessee fill a development manager role; and, as luck would have it, Beacon was open-minded about considering outside talent.

Beacon President & CEO, Justin Owen, knows talent when he sees it. So, he hired Sam in short order.

Two years later, Sam’s still raising money for Beacon.  Here’s what Justin recently told me about Sam:

Sam kicks *ss. Sam is an exceptionally hard worker who has revolutionized our development program. He believes in our vision and knows how to sell it. He learned some valuable skills working for the dark side with NPR, and now he’s found a place where he can exercise his fullest potential and fight for what he truly believes.”


Now, this is why I love my job. Justin’s happy. Sam’s happy. Beacon’s donors are happy. And Tennesseeians have a bit more liberty today than they did two years ago.

So, what’s the moral of this story? Consider hiring from other sectors when possible. Sam is proof it can work like a charm.

And a note to those was say we “recycle the same talent”…. remember that this is another way of saying we retain talent. That, of course, is a good thing!

(A special thanks to the late, great John Blundell for correcting my French (Yiddish) in the original post. We shared a birthday, a love of liberty, and a similar feistiness. I am honored to have known you, John.)



Claire Kittle Dixon is executive director of Talent Market. Read her other columns here.