Left-Handed Astronaut

Did you see the adverts and trailers for the Ridley Scott film the Martian some time ago, which stars Matt Damon as an Astronaut stranded on Mars?

This got me thinking about ‘Left-handed astronauts’ in the Digital Media sector.  This may not be a term you’re familiar with, so let me enlighten you. For all practical purposes, there are very few trained astronauts in the world; there are only 6 in space today and NASA, the largest astronaut employer only has 46 currently qualified and even fewer left-handed ones circa 4 presumably.

‘Left Handed Astronauts’

It is a metaphor used by head-hunters to identify the unrealistic expectations of a client company.

Throughout my years of finding top talent for the Digital Media sector, I have worked with a number of businesses who had a very specific number of boxes that they felt needed to be ticked, when looking for their ‘perfect’ candidate, in some cases more than 15 boxes. They would not even consider an interview if all the boxes hadn’t been ticked.

It’s important to remember that whilst a perfect candidate would be ideal, a perfect human being does not exist.


The absolutely perfect candidate doesn’t exist, many people embellish their experience on their CV (63% contain lies or discrepancies*) to appear perfect and interview questions can be predictable, with the interviewee having a predetermined set of answers to expected questions.

Here is what you must do to save yourself a head-hunting headache

If you want to find the best senior talent for your business, you must be open to imperfections.  Look at your current, most successful employees and try to remember how they started and how they have evolved and flourished.

What are their main qualities and flaws?

This way you are more likely to be open to finding the perfect, imperfect candidate for your business.

P.S. And in case you were wondering about Mr Damon – he’s a right-handed astronaut, $25m (his fee for the film) still doesn’t get you a left-handed one.

*From the 2015 survey by Risk Advisory Group of 3,000 CVs.