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Mining for Diamonds in the Rough

By Tom Brennan, Senior Writer

Diamond in the Rough

Talent in the Raw: Stripping Away Experience as a Requirement Part 2

In Part 1 I shared some examples to show that you can find great candidate by focusing on characteristics and potential rather than specific experience or degrees. Both Decision Toolbox (DT) and Software Advice have found this approach fruitful, particularly for roles like inside sales and customer service, but even for a PHP Programmer. But how do you find and assess this raw talent?

Where to start digging

Even with expert meta-Boolean-peeling-X-Ray-flipping search techniques, it’s hard to find personality attributes on the résumé databases. And while Recruiters often cringe when a hiring manager says, “I’ll know it when I see it,” some live interaction is important to assess characteristics.

True diamonds in the rough (DITRs) are open to trying something new. If not, the whole notion of turning baristas into sales reps falls flat. But you probably interact with a DITR often — an upbeat, customer-oriented foodserver or bank teller — so the trick is to recognize them and let them know you’re interested. Software Advice has developed referral cards that their employees can share with a potential DITR. Cards are tied to referral bonuses.

Software Advice referral card front

Software Advice referral card back

Invite DITRs to come to you, but in an informal setting so that real personalities can shine through. Instead of a career fair, host an open house to let candidates see your space and meet your people (free food always draws a crowd!). I’ve even heard of one company that hosts “casino nights” as a fun meet-and-greet. Reach out to groups whose members match your needs. For example, amateur sports teams should have members who bring the competitive spirit needed for success in sales.

The important facets

The characteristics that are the best predictors of success will change from role to role, but Bethany Perkins, Manager of Recruiting & HR at Software Advice, always looks for a history of hard work and success. Making a career transition is challenging and stressful, and she wants to see that a candidate can overcome challenges that require sacrifice, perseverance and a strong work ethic. Bethany also believes that veterans bring these traits: surviving deployment in a hostile situation is a pretty good indication of the ability to overcome challenges!

Kathy Marshall, DT’s Director of Quality, wrote about the connection among passion, quality and excellence in a recent blog. In her view, you should hire people who are passionate and motivated to go the extra mile in order to ensure high quality performance.

Writing between the lines

In addition to a résumé, ask candidates to briefly describe the challenges they overcame in the top three achievements in their life — they don’t have to be related to the position or even to work. This will give you a sample of their writing skills, but it also should provide a glimpse into their character and attitude. And if you’re looking at a well written submission that  shows the character you want, stop reading and call that person!

Diligence still due

Identifying DITRs is just the first step, of course. You still need a rigorous screening process that ensures fair and consistent treatment to all candidates. Bethany Perkins warns that, in the excitement of finding a DITR, it can be easy to don your rose-colored glasses. Two pieces of advice from recruiting guru Lou Adler’s blog:

  • Wait 30 minutes before making a decision to let the flush of excitement dissipate. Then review the candidate’s qualifications objectively.
  • Do the Opposite of Your Natural Response. If you’re really enthusiastic about a candidate, look for reasons NOT to pursue them. If your initial response is negative, look for reasons to move forward with them.

To wrap up, opening your recruitment doors to DITRs is not only an expression of your company culture, but it also will influence your culture. People with a strong work ethic, passion and a positive approach tend to motivate others to demonstrate those same characteristics.

To learn more about Decision Toolbox, please contact us – we’d love to hear from you!

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One Response to “Mining for Diamonds in the Rough”

  1. November 04, 2013 at 5:50 am, Talent in the Raw: Stripping Away Experience as a Requirement | Blog | Decision Toolbox said:

    […] part 2 of this blog we’ll go into how to find diamonds in the rough, what characteristics are […]


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