I’ve been into HR industry for more than 15 years. Since then I’ve hired thousands of people.
Here’s what I look for in a job candidate.
1. Look for someone who is awake and aware of their surroundings. This sounds like a trivial item, but it is fundamental. Many people view a job search as a clerical task, like filing their tax return. They put no thought into it. The show up at a job interview unprepared, never having spent a minute thinking about the role or how they would approach it.
2. Look for a candidate who owns their story. Many people don’t. When they talk about their career, they say “I got hired at Company A, and that was okay for a while but then they laid me off. My sister knew about a job in Kansas so I went out there, but then that company shut down.” Their whole career history is about things that happened to them. There is no agency or ownership of any of the moves they’ve made. I want to hire someone who makes their own decisions!
3. Look for someone who has their own opinions. I hope the candidate doesn’t stare at my face as they speak, hoping that their words meet with my approval. Who cares what I think? I am just another person on the planet, one of seven billion.
4. Want to hire someone who can see the intersection between the work they’ve already done and the work I am hiring someone to do. It doesn’t have to be linear, left-brain relevance. They could have worked in a different function or industry. Those things don’t matter nearly as much as a person’s ability to put themselves in the hiring manager’s shoes and say “I hear what you are saying. It sounds like your problem is X — here’s how I’ve solved that problem in the past.”
5. Look for someone with a sense of humor. We spend too much time at work to be serious all the time. If work is stiff and formal, it’s no fun. Time-and-motion-type “efficiency” is overrated. Real efficiency comes from tapping the human power we all bring to work — if our leaders allow us to use it!
6. Hire folks who are confident in their own abilities. I don’t want to hire someone who is afraid to speak with their own voice. How could a fearful person help me solve my biggest problems? I don’t want to hire the most docile or submissive candidate. Some managers do, of course — but how long could you stand working for someone like that?
7. Look for a candidate who values their life outside of work.
8. Want to hire someone who knows what they want from their next job and their career. I am excited when a candidate says “I want to work in the corporate world for a few years, and then start my own business.” We all need an entrepreneurial outlook and mindset these days, whether we work for ourselves or someone else. People with an entrepreneurial mindset look out at the horizon to spot problems before they can cause trouble. I don’t want to hire someone who only focuses on the work on their desk.
9. Hire people who expect more out of their work than just a paycheck. I want to work around people with ideas, sparky people who try new things just to see what will happen. I want to get their texts at six in the morning that say “I just had the craziest thought, stepping out of the shower! What if we tried…”
10. Finally, I look for a candidate who takes responsibility for their decisions. Sadly, many candidates don’t. They show up as victims, rather than the most important and powerful person in their own life.
We all run into roadblocks and hardships. It’s part of life. How we deal with them is everything. I want to hire someone who has faced adversity and who overcame it. They have muscles!
You deserve a manager who wants to hire someone as smart, capable and awesome as you are.
If you have to dumb down your resume or play a part on a job interview to get hired, you know one thing — that manager doesn’t deserve your talents!
You may have to kiss a lot of frogs to find a manager who gets you and thus deserves you.
If you aren’t willing to kiss frogs and slam doors on the wrong opportunities in order to bring the right ones in, we can all sympathize with you — but you will not grow the muscles you need until you face that challenge and surmount it.