- What Kanye, Beyoncé and M&Ms can teach us about hiring aces
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May 26, 2022

Please make those chicken legs heavily seasoned with cayenne pepper, keep the room at 78 degrees, and don't forget the rose-scented candles. Those are just a few of the requests that Beyoncé stipulates in her concert contracts. Kayne West likes slushie machines that mix frozen Grey Goose with lemonade and Hennessey with Coke. 

These requests are called contract riders. Decades ago, Van Halen received a bunch of attention for having a rider that demanded a bowl of M&Ms with all the brown ones be removed. In a 2012 interview, lead singer David Lee Roth explained the bowl of M&Ms was an indicator of whether the concert promoter properly read the band's complicated contract. Failure to do so would cause the promoter to forfeit the entire show at full price. 

Concert contracts are full of requests; most are mundane yet essential to the performance. Riders ensure that the venues and promoters are doing the job outlined in the agreement. Failure to hit one or two of these ridiculous riders would raise a flag for the artist that something more significant might have been missed. 

And what does this have to do with hiring?

Great question. 

Founder of Livesidekick, Eli Pascal, explained how he filters out the hundreds of job applications he gets. His method is very similar to the rockstar rider system. On the job posting, Eli places application riders in the job description details or on the application form. He is only looking for applicants who closely pay attention and follow written instructions. 

Let's get into a few examples of what this might look like. The goal is to place something unexpected into the application while also making it easy for your team to visually screen applicants. 

  1. Please submit a cover letter with your reason for wanting to work here. Be sure to mention our company by name in the body of the cover letter and highlight our name in bold red font. 
  2. When entering your name on the application form, we require you to spell it out in all capital letters. 
  3. To apply, please upload your resume to http://xxxx, and on the very last page of the resume, share one thing you are grateful for this week. 

Those three examples alone will likely eliminate a good portion of the applications. Scan the applications received, eliminating anyone who didn't spell their name in all caps. Next, review the cover letters to scan for the bold red font. Lastly, did they take the extra time to add to their standard resume? If not, see ya! 

I'll add one more action to this list, if the applicant took the time to jump through the riders, be sure to personally thank them for their effort and submission. It's just good karma.

author avatar
George Morris
I use my 20+ years of entrepreneurial experience and training to coach businesses on scaling up rapidly using Verne Harnish's Scaling Up framework. By doing so, my clients are more efficient and profitable, giving them the ability to make bigger impacts in the world. I deeply believe entrepreneurs are the best equipped to be the vehicle for meaningful change, and in the decade ahead, we'll see a substantial shift in how business is done. We'll move to a model where company purpose, impact, curiosity, and team health will be differentiators in overall business success. As Simon Sinek has pointed out, the finite games are the legacy of the past; we're moving to an infinite game.