Being in the recruiting business, I’ve experienced firsthand an increasing war for talent in which selecting and hiring “All-Stars” out of the crowd certainly isn’t getting any easier. So we have to look for unique traits that can truly help us unearth some gems. These qualities in a candidate don’t reveal themselves in an obvious way all the time through a resume. Rather, they may need to be drawn out further in conversation.
Where do we begin to look for guidance, if not a resume? The first thing to connect with is where your company culture stands. After all, different company environments may require different skills. Is your company more entrepreneurial in its culture with a great deal of flexibility that favors independence or is it a more mature organization that’s been in business for over 20 years with many policies and employees?
Once you’ve established what the characteristics are that you know you need to bolster your culture, then you can look for those characteristics off the resume. Here are 6 great qualities in candidates I’ve found that point me toward a part of the story that the resume just isn’t telling:
When conducting a search for an entrepreneurial client, I may look for non-traditional elements that people have in their backgrounds that are entrepreneurial. Why? They may show an independence to explore side projects like rehabbing houses. They may be pursuing a path in which they are driven to experiment with their own ideas. At some point in their lives, they’ve taken certain risks. They have a passion for being lifelong learners as they aim to improve themselves.
Next, I’m looking for “the why” behind the hobbies. So you’re a guitar player. Why and how did you get into that particular instrument? Who introduced that to you? Why did you stick with it? How does it make you feel when you play? It’s less about what that hobby actually is as it is about the focus, drive and energy the person associates with it.
In their personal lives, do they have a track record of success for setting and achieving goals? If a person has communicated that they ran 5 marathons, I’m interested in these personal accomplishments because I’d like to know the motivating factor. What was it like to train for that? Why did you decide to keep doing it, knowing the physical demands and mental commitment of training?
It’s human nature, but even if you have all the skills in the world, if you don’t have a high likability and a knack for getting along with all kinds of people, it’s very difficult to overcome. In this same vein, getting people to collaborate with you and want to help you makes the world go round.
Also, it’s refreshing to meet someone who has a history of helping people – what have you done in regarding to charities, mentoring and volunteering? I don’t believe everyone does those things simply to bolster their resume. Most of the time, they genuinely want to do it. That speaks highly of that individual.
If people can demonstrate a competitive background, I don’t minimize the weight of that. For example, do they like to play sports? Which ones? Whether the person is a former college swimmer or enjoys running marathons, they have stories in which they speak to the enjoyment of competition and the thrill of victory. As they retell these stories, their eyes light up. Their voice raises slightly in volume and intensity. They become more animated. It’s like they’re right back there, competing again. This same dynamic of competition and potential rewards can be present in their next role, which may seem familiar to them and pave a smoother way forward.
How about you? What kinds of qualities do you look for in a new potential hire that’s not obvious from the resume? What non-traditional traits seem to play a valuable role for succeeding in your environment? We’d love for you to share what you’ve learned from your experience with candidates on this.
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