A Case for the “Less than Ideal” Candidate: Why it can payoff to hire talent that doesn’t know it all…. yet.
For many entrepreneurs or small business owners, your business is your baby. You spend countless hours nurturing its healthy growth, sleepless nights worrying about how to pay for it’s needs, and invest infinite amounts of energy trying to make it the best it can be. So, when it come to hiring, it’s easy to exude the “helicopter Mom” persona; to look for the absolute PERFECT, pristine, “couldn’t-be-better-if-I-built-him-myself” fit for your open position.
Here at RNG, we feel your pain! But, we’ve also spent the better part of the last two years watching and helping guide companies through one of the most nerve-wracking processes in your company’s life cycle–hiring. Today, we’re offering some advice, based on our experiences, as to why it can be important to step away from the perfectionist approach and embrace imperfect, dynamic, and diverse talent.
First things first, we know you wouldn’t hire the unqualified fifteen-year-old babysitter off the street to watch your newborn, and we certainly aren’t advocating a similar solution for your company. What we are suggesting, however; is taking a second look at the candidate with star “potential”. The candidate who hasn’t quite reached their peak in terms of job history; who didn’t attend the most prestigious school, or have the most glamorous internship. But, the job candidate who, nevertheless, possesses what David K. Williams refers to as the “7 Non-Negotiables: Respect, Belief, Loyalty, Commitment, Trust, Courage, and Gratitude.”
These are the job-seekers who are eager to learn and excited to make a difference. Rather than entering a new workplace entrenched in the dogma of past work experiences, they can be more perceptive to your company’s way of doing things; more moldable. Let’s be clear– we not suggesting you apply a “shot-in-the-dark” kind of approach to your hiring practices. We’re simply suggesting that you hone your focus to attributes candidates possesses that aren’t on paper.
Regina Hartley, an HR executive, gave a TEDTalk in which she described her logic for giving the “Scrapper” (underdog) a chance. She said, “A resume tells a story. And over the years, I’ve learned something about people whose experiences read like a patchwork quilt, that makes me stop and fully consider them before tossing their resumes away. A series of odd jobs may indicate inconsistency, lack of focus, unpredictability. Or it may signal a committed struggle against obstacles. At the very least, the Scrapper deserves an interview.”
So here’s our case for the “not perfect on paper” candidate:
Fewer Bad Habits to Break
Rather than having to worry about “breaking” the new hire of their old habits and traditions, you have more room to mold/teach your new employee your preferred way of doing things.
Now when talking money, many companies argue that the cost of hiring someone with little to no experience in the field is more costly than hiring a superstar employee, but we respectfully disagree (at least in the majority of cases). Instead, we often see that someone who has been given the chance to blossom and cultivate their skills will show an increased loyalty to you and your company, leading to decreased turnover rates.
Regardless of age, someone new to a field (or with limited expertise in a field) can bring a refreshed sense of energy with them. Often these candidates are eager to impress which can lead to new innovations and enlightened creativity, of which may not have otherwise come to fruition.
While we could go on and on in our plight for the underdog, we won’t subject all of you to our long-winded antics. Instead, we’ll simply leave you with this: next time you find yourself in the driver’s seat of the hiring process, give thought to the candidate that embodies grit, perseverance, and stamina; in addition to the candidate that simply “checks all of the boxes.”