As recruiters and hiring managers, we desperately try to avoid wasting time. We are all too busy and stretched too thin. Some of this aversion to wasting time comes from a small group of hiring managers who view the recruiting process as a chore – an arduous, messy task they would rather not deal with or an unfortunate, necessary evil that distracts from the real work of the day. To some, it is both. (In reality, recruiting talent is one of our most important roles, but that is for another post.) Even those who view recruiting as a real opportunity want to avoid wasting time at all costs.

None of us want to waste time. So what is the big deal?

To avoid wasting time, we develop job descriptions with extremely tight criteria. After all, we know what we want.

Then before talking to anyone, many of us attempt to find the perfect resume of the perfect length with the perfect font of the perfect size. It used to be on the perfect paper with the perfect weight, but I am dating myself. This is a candidate from the perfect school, with the perfect amount of experience and the perfect job titles, with the perfect career trajectory, who worked for the perfect companies in the perfect industry, with the perfect balance of tenure and movement, who already lives in the perfect location, and who is willing to work for the perfect compensation. Oh, and who only wants to work for us.

This sounds perfectly reasonable, right?

We do this so we do not waste time. We want to talk with only the right candidates. So we do not talk to anyone and we reject one promising candidate after another. In doing so, this becomes the biggest time waster of all.

Recruiting is a contact sport. The more people we connect with, the faster we find “the one.” If there is something interesting about a candidate’s background, talk to her. If further intrigued, meet her. Think of ways she could work, not just ways she will not. There is value in every interaction.We just have to be open to finding it.

Recruiting is also about exploration, curiosity, and discovery. I wonder if Christopher Columbus worried about “wasting his time” before setting off for the new world.

It is true that we cannot interview everyone. But when we embrace the opportunity to bring talent into our company, recruiting becomes less of a chore on which we spend as little time as possible and more of an exciting journey. Like Columbus, we focus less on wasting time and more on what wonders might find.

Genuine curiosity opens us to possibility of discovering someone amazing by focusing less on perfect resumes, talking to more people faster, exploring a candidate’s story, and considering ways someone might contribute, not just the reasons they will not.

How could this ever be wasted time?