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  • Writer's picturePriya Sharma Shaikh

Why the best hire might not have the perfect resume

How often have you hired the candidate who seemed perfect on paper and in the interview, only to come up short when on the job?

Hiring is one of the most important jobs a business head does because when you hire well that is have the job done to achieve business objectives. Having said that it is undoubtedly one of the most difficult jobs to do well. With millennials streaming into the job market the challenge for managers to attract and retain quality talent has only gotten tougher. Although there is no dearth of candidates for most jobs, you want to hire the best talent out there, people who will stick with you through thick and thin and be allies in the race for market leadership. How do you recruit such people?

'By recruiting those who’ve fought against tremendous odds and challenges!' That’s what Regina Hartley, VP, Human Resources at UPS, NYC suggests. Speaking from her own experience in this TED talk, she advocates picking candidates who’ve ‘scrapped’ through life to get where they have.

Of course candidates need to have the desired skills and qualifications for the job but everything else being equal it makes sense to back a ‘scrapper’ vis-à-vis a ‘silver spoon’.

For they have the persistence, the humility and the ability to bounce back from setbacks. Skill sets that will help your team wade through difficult times and achieve the ambitious goals you hope to achieve.

Hartley highlights an interesting phenomena called the ‘Post Traumatic Growth’. Arguing against the commonly held notion of a traumatic childhood leading to a dysfunctional adulthood, she refers to a study that was designed to measure the effects of adversity on children at risk, among a subset of 698 children who experienced the most severe and extreme conditions, fully one-third of them grew up to lead healthy, successful and productive lives. In spite of everything and against tremendous odds, they succeeded.

This turns the bias against an unstable early life and difficult upbringing into a force for positive personal evolution. She further cites the example of the famous and hugely successful Steve Jobs, whose parents gave him up for adoption, he never finished college and job-hopped before travelling to India for a years sojourn. And to top it all he was dyslexic. Most managers and recruiters would’ve rejected him without giving his resume a second look. Everyone knows how that story turned out.

Scrappers, as Hartley calls them, have worked around things throughout their lives. They’re propelled by the belief that the only person one has full control on is YOURSELF. When things don't turn out well, Scrappers ask, "What can I do differently to create a better result?" Scrappers have a sense of purpose that prevents them from giving up on themselves, kind of like if you've survived poverty, a crazy father and several muggings, you figure out most things and the so-called "Business challenges" seem like small fry to deal with.

It is this incredible reservoir of self-belief that gives scrappers an edge over others. So the next time you’ve got two resumes vying for a job do give the scrapper a chance. You never know what gem you may end up with.

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