There’s a phrase in sports favoured by the most intense competitors: “runner-up is first loser”.
Pretty brutal. Certainly arrogant, and definitely misleading if you try to put that into a business idiom.
Take the hiring process. What about the person who ended up second in the long, demanding selection process for a key position? Sometimes the choice is a no-brainer; more often there is little to choose between outstanding candidates. One is picked over the other for any number of reasons, many of them minor differences which can often be subjective — that “gut feeling”.
Or a really strong candidate has the bad luck to be up against a one-in-a-thousand superstar. Think of coming to your peak as a swimmer at the 2008 Olympics at the same time as Michael Phelps, winner of eight gold medals.
In other words, life’s silver medalists should always be worth a second look.
Writing in ere.net, John Sullivan points out you have already done the heavy lifting and completed a thorough assessment. You thought they would be a good fit or they wouldn’t have been finalists. And they have already bought into the idea of working at your firm.
Here is Sullivan’s list of 20 categories of candidates who deserve a second look.