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business | December 2, 2018

Can You Learn a Recruiting Lesson from Scarface?

Scarface, recruiting,One of the downsides of this booming economy, is that the labor market is getting tighter making it difficult to find employees.

Of course, sales people are always hard to find, so this competitive environment makes it tougher!

However, cartels don’t have this problem, so could we learn a recruiting lesson from someone like Scarface?

Tony’s Recruiting Example

In the Scarface movie clip, you can see Tony Montanan visiting his former employer at Lopez Motors to settle a complication that developed as a result of him leaving and starting a competing criminal enterprise. His former boss took his departure and subsequent competition personally by hiring a hit squad to kill Tony, that failed!

Even though Tony is blinded by rage while executing his revenge on Lopez and the corrupt police office Mel, he still doesn’t miss a good recruiting opportunity. An underling in Lopez’s drug cartel, named Ernie, is left standing after Tony has finished blasting the two culprits that plotted to have him killed.

When his partner points out that Ernie is still there and ask what they should do with him and indirectly hints at whether they should kill him or not. After all, this was a witness and we know cartels don’t like to leave witnesses. However, Tony realized that this man had valuable experience that he could use since he was expanding his drug empire and decided to offer him a job!

What two-recruiting lessons did Tony demonstrate that businesses can employ to locate and hire more qualified sales people?

Always Be Recruiting

In this case Tony was recruiting while conducting a hit operation! This means that no matter where you are you should keep an eye out for talent. This could happen when you’re on holiday, at networking events, church, sales meeting, at the gym etc.… I know of one business development manager that was hired after sharing a ski lift with an executive of a startup on the slopes at telluride. Ray Croc spotted management talent flipping burgers at one of his early McDonald’s franchise restaurants that later became his right-hand man.

The reality is that there could be a superstar salesman serving you dinner at your favorite restaurant, playing basketball with you at your athletic club, or paired with you at a golfing event… The key is to be conversational with everyone you meet and then be aware when you happen to discover someone with the qualities and experience your looking for. Finally you must be bold enough to make a job offer, just like Tony!

Poach from Competitors

Tony knew that the best place to look for soldiers to work for his expanding drug empire, that would have the right work experience, was at rival cartels. This is the main reason Tony was so quick to offer Ernie a Job.

The idea is that recruiters should be hunting for sales people where they can easily be found and that can only be done by poaching from the competition. One of the advantages of this strategy is that you will be targeting recruiting prospects that already have a proven sales track record. Instead of searching, interviewing and training people that claim to be sales people you can rely on your competitors to do all the leg work on your behalf.

Of course, you might think that it’s more difficult to poach a sales person from a competitor rather than searching for them through the ranks of the unemployed. However, this notion couldn’t be more wrong-headed… This is because in many cases your rivals don’t understand the value of their superstar sales people and don’t give them enough praise, money, or the proper career path leaving them exposed as easy targets for head hunters.

You merely need to identify these talented individuals and communicate with them that you understand their value by offering them all the things they are not getting from their current employer and then simply go around luring these great salespeople away from your competitors!


As it turns out a Drug dealer like Scarface can teach businesses a couple of tricks for recruiting sales people in a tight labor market. Tony was still able to see a great recruiting opportunity even though he was in the middle of taking out his enemies. This extreme example should teach us that businesses should Always Be Recruiting! Finally, Tony decided to make a job offer to a soldier that worked for his rival because he knew this meant that Ernie had the unique experience he needed. This means that when sales people can’t be found with the traditional hiring methods then we should start poaching from the competition. Of course, we only want to mirror Tony’s aggressive hiring tactics and not the rest of his violent criminal business practices.

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