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Virginia Postrel

Would You Hire the Super Bowl Hero?

The “war for talent” has been a business watchword for almost two decades. 
AMFOOT - NFL - SUPERBOWL
Photographer: Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images

When was the last time your talent-hungry organization hired the equivalent of Super Bowl hero Malcolm Butler, the undrafted rookie who came out of the University of West Alabama, a Division II school many football fans had never even heard of? When was the last time you even considered someone with unlikely credentials for a critical position?

The “war for talent” has been a business watchword for almost two decades. The imperative to hire the very best is used to justify paying big bucks to top executives. It’s an argument for offering more visas to highly educated immigrants. It explains why technology company recruiters swarm schools such as Stanford and Carnegie Mellon. Nothing is more important than attracting and retaining the right personnel. And we're told that it’s getting harder to do so.