Recruiting Innovation Talent: Finding the Math Surgation in the Haystack

CD13_KeynoteSquares_SullivaSan Francisco State’s Dr. John Sullivan raised more than a few eyebrows at 2012’s CoDev conference with his “shock jock” approach to telling executives why they fail at attracting top innovation talent.  A few of the gems/bombs he dropped along the way included:

What will you do when the best innovation candidate comes in with a tattoo on their face, body piercings they want to show you and tells you the way you do things is “cute” like the way their grandparents did stuff?  Will you hire that person?

And, describing the feeling that a software company’s recruiting billboard, featuring an abstract line of code, was supposed to elicit in the right candidate:

It’s supposed to give the right person a “math [edit: rhymes with election].”

Hyperbolic statements aside, Dr. Sullivan fully succeeded in grabbing the attention of everyone in the room and continued with his very candid talk about the ruthless and often comical recruiting practices of top technology companies.  Practices which range from sending personal video messages from the CEO  on a free iPad to targeting the winners of a rival’s corporate awards banquet and soliciting them at the bar.  Dr. Sullivan hammered home his point that if you want the best innovation talent, the type that is essential to creating billion-dollar industries and market dominance, then great courage and creativity is needed to both attract and, more importantly, keep these people.

In his post-CoDev article published on recruiting industry community site,, Dr. Sullivan lists 30 specific actions to consider:  “Hiring a Targeted Innovator Requires Bold Approaches


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *