My frugal ways have rubbed off on my hubby over the years and he has become quite the proud bargain shopper. A while ago he purchased a new (used) bass guitar from a Craigslist ad. He had shopped around comparing prices online and offline for new and used versions of the model he wanted.

When he met with the seller of the guitar, he was surprised to see that it was yellow. It appeared white in the ad photo. He hemmed and hawed for a while and finally decided that even though he wasn’t crazy about the color, the price was too irresistible to pass up – especially since the guitar was barely used and in pristine condition. He ended up saving several hundred dollars off what the same guitar would have cost new and on sale.

The purchase kind of surprised me especially because hubby has a tendency to be very conservative in color choices. At first he seemed a bit disappointed and unsure about his decision. I suggested he could customize the look with a more interesting pick guard. We went online and selected a cool and much more rock & roll design. After installing it, the guitar looked totally different and rather unique, in a good way.

Finally, being that it was pre-owned, my hubby wanted to get it professionally cleaned and tuned. The guitar store guy who did the work was amazed at the condition, loved the rare color and said he got a steal on a bad-@$$ guitar. Hubby agreed and digs playing it.

yellow guitar

Of course by now you must be wondering why someone chose to write about a musical instrument on a recruiting blog. Well, that’s just my ultra-geeky way of connecting practically every possible mundane daily activity or event into something to do with talent. I can’t help myself, it just happens – whether eating a cheeseburger, folding laundry or watching embarrassing reality shows, I somehow find a way to yank a talent management or talent acquisition issue out of practically everything.

You see I view the odd, yet now pretty sweet looking yellow guitar in a similar way to how top talent is often not immediately spotted or given development opportunities. The best candidate may not be the most obvious choice visually and sometimes may be obtained for a discounted price, because he or she was underutilized, trapped and underappreciated. Maybe selecting the newest, flashiest, full price model is a more logical direction to go, but I’ve always found something special about quirky, creative and unusual people and objects.

Consider how non-conformists who don’t exactly fit the corporate mold or may not have any interest in doing so are precisely the type of people who make things happen in an organization. Imagine if someone’s current or previous job title or compensation level is not indicative of their full potential. Perhaps some polish, accessorizing and fine tuning could turn an otherwise undesirable candidate into your next rock star who excels beyond your wildest expectations.

I’ve almost always been pleased when I’ve gone the unconventional route, when instinct prompted me to take a chance and move forward with a less-than-perfect-on-the-surface candidate. With so many fast moving developments in the employment environment, why not give some thought to how that yellow guitar might relate to those you are sourcing, screening, interviewing and ultimately recommending for consideration?


Guest blog post written by Kelly Blokdijk. As a talent optimization advisor Kelly’s professional background “Creating a Voice for Talent” includes 10+ years experience offering exceptional human resources, organization development and recruiting support to diverse organizations.

Article modified from original September 2011 ERE post by Kelly Blokdijk