5 Hiring Lessons From Dr. Seuss

Theodor Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, would be amazed to find that the lessons in his children’s books contain valuable hiring lessons for small businesses who struggle with recruiting the right people. Most of us have a favorite Dr. Seuss book and while we may not consciously be aware the lessons came from Dr. Seuss, we remember those lessons nonetheless. Here are five of my favorite hiring lessons that I attribute to Dr. Seuss.

Respect your candidates.

Dr. Seuss taught kids many things in his books—to be responsible, to take care of the environment, to help those without a voice, to experience the joy of language, to be imaginative—all without making children feel they were being talked down to, or made to feel like they were a bother. Just pick up a copy of The Cat in the Hat, or Horton Hears a Who, or Oh, the Places You’ll Go! and you’ll see what I mean.

Dr. Seuss teaches we can achieve our goal—hiring the best, most talented employees—without being rude, condescending, or treating them like they’re an annoyance. We need to respect our candidates because in a world of social sharing, the way you treat them can reach millions of people in seconds and severely harm or destroy your business reputation.

Make every word count.

Dr. Seuss told stories that captivated his readers. Some of those stories used only 50 different words. He was a master at creating stories clearly and concisely. A publisher told Dr. Seuss that he couldn’t write a children’s book in fewer than 250 words. That prompted him to prove the publisher wrong so he wrote The Cat in the Hat in 223 words.

When you write a job ad, making every word count is critical. You need to capture the attention of your ideal candidate and pull them in so they want to learn more. If you are using a lengthy, boring job description for an ad, stop right now. Go find your treasured Dr. Seuss books and learn from the master how to make every word count.

Turn your ideas sideways.

If you present your job opportunities to candidates in a different way, you will wake your ideal employees up. Dr. Seuss said “I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living; it’s a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope.” He encourages imagination and acceptance of other perspectives. This allows people to see things in new and different ways and experience some fun.

I Can Read with My Eyes Shut turned the concept of learning to read around. It gave children a way to learn words by memorizing them. However, we are reminded at the end that we’ll “miss the best things if you keep your eyes shut,” reminding us that no one way is best.

As a small business hiring expert, I am always searching for ways to turn things sideways and upside down to find creative ways to reach ideal candidates. When Ikea’s customers opened the box that contained their new bookcase, desk, or other pieces of furniture, not only did they receive those assembly instructions, they also received instructions for building your career with Ikea into their products. What a creative way to recruit people who already know and love your products.

People have heads and hearts.

Dr. Seuss was a master at connecting the head with the heart in his books. By reading his stories, children learn to experience love, joy, fear, sadness, and anger. When you engage both the head and the heart, you connect with emotions, and people remember those stories.

When you are hiring your employees, appeal to both their head and their heart. Talk about the challenges as well as the opportunities. Let them know what you are excited about and what scares you. Invite them to help you find a solution. Make them want to be a part of your success. What you are really doing is igniting their passion for your business mission, vision, and values.

Write simply, but be specific.

The beauty of Dr. Seuss’s books is in their simplicity. His use of rhymes and short, easy-to-understand words made the lessons clear and memorable. That is essential when writing for children. It’s also critical when you are writing for your employees.

When you create a job description, you are focusing on the details of the job, because it’s the details that make your performance expectations clear and understandable. You want to keep your audience in mind, and write in a way that they will understand. If you are an engineer and your employees are seasonal workers with a high school Diploma, write in their language, not yours.


What about you? Do you apply any of Dr. Seuss’s lessons in your hiring? If you or someone you know needs some help applying some Dr. Seuss to their hiring process, call me, send an email, or text MOMENTUM to 480-418-1411 to get more in-depth, step-by-step recruiting help. And, the best part is that it’s FREE!