Hire for the culture.
When it comes to hiring, business leaders put a lot of emphasis on an individual’s resume. In fact, if someone lacks the education or experience for a given position, they won’t even get their foot in the door for an interview. It’s understandable. Given the sheer number of people applying for a job at any given time, there has to be some way to separate the promising candidates from the lackluster ones, and the resume has always served that purpose. However, is the resume really the best way to determine which job candidates will bring a high level of integrity, passion, and diversity of thought to the job?
Finding the Best Person for the Job, Regardless of Their Resume
The link between principals and profitability is incontrovertible. A business will be more successful and profitable if its leaders model values-based leadership. The next logical conclusion is, in order to create a strong culture of character, the C-suite should hire individuals who similarly espouse values-based leadership. Such management is exhibited by: leaders who live their lives with integrity, ethics, and values; leaders who respect and value all people, celebrate diversity, are eager to listen and learn from others; and those who hire based on character, competence, and potential.
Knowing this, you must question whether the traditional criteria used to assess potential employees measures a candidate fully. Do education, experience, presentation, and homogeneity give proper weight and importance to the measure of character, drive, ambition, energy, diversity, and different perspectives? When using traditional criteria, you run the risk of only hiring people who are like you.
Put another way, is the Ivy League educated, attractive, presentable, and amenable candidate who has demonstrated experience and growth within a structured environment really the best candidate? Not necessarily. Do resumes give you the information you need on a candidate’s character and potential? Certainly not. Resumes do not tell the candidate’s full story. Even the cover letter is often looked at as a place to regurgitate the information listed on a resume. Universities ask candidates to write a personal essay as part of their application, which allows the admissions panel to better assess an individual’s character. Why don’t businesses do the same?
Values-Based Leaders Must Focus on Hiring for Character, Not Just Experience
The top priority for values-based leaders should be hiring people with integrity, ethics, and values. They must look for individuals who have overcome obstacles and challenges to achieve their goals, and seek out those who bring different perspectives and thinking to an organization. It would be silly to abandon the traditional criteria for measuring a person’s success, but the criteria should be expanded and extenuating circumstances must be heard and taken into account when evaluating a person’s readiness for a job.
Some of the insights from Malcolm Gladwell will help you make the case for going beyond the resume when it comes to hiring:
- Anyone can become great at something with enough practice (the 10,000 hour rule).
- Everyone makes snap judgments about others, which can reveal sexism, racism, and other inherent biases. To overcome these biases, you must understand them, and be willing to expose yourself to new environments, experiences, and people.
- A huge part of success depends on personality, a person’s willingness to work hard, upbringing and network, and luck.
Character Assessment Creates a More Diverse and Inclusive Workplace
Rethinking your hiring process in order to give individuals a chance even when they may not look great on paper will ultimately lead to a more inclusive and diverse workplace. Why does this matter? Well, it’s not just to make you feel good. It turns out that encouraging tolerance and diversity in the workplace is good for a business’s bottom line.
A recent study conducted by DiversityInc. revealed that companies with exceptionally high levels of diversity scored a 24.8 percent higher return than the S&P 500 when measured over 10 years with dividends reinvested. And according to McKinsey, “companies in the top quartile for ethnic diversity at the executive level are 33 percent more likely to have above-average profitability than companies in the bottom quartile, and the same goes for gender diversity, with companies in the top quartile for gender diversity being 21 percent more likely to have above-average profitability than companies in the bottom quartile.”
Emphasizing Integrity When Hiring Is Good for Business
When it comes to doing business at almost any level, trust affects speed and cost. Your own business experience will confirm this fact. When trust is low between two partners in a transaction, speed drops and costs rise. This is why it’s so important to hire people based on their trustworthiness and accountability.
Every individual you bring into your organization has the potential to create a huge impact, positive or negative, on those around them and your business as a whole. One rogue employee can destroy the public’s trust in your company and, make no mistake, trust matters a great deal. A 2002 study by Watson Wyatt revealed that widely trusted publicly traded companies generated a blended return to shareholders 286 percent higher than organizations with low levels of trust. That’s a pretty significant way to generate almost three times the return to shareholders.
How Can You Evaluate Each Candidate in a Holistic Way?
Determining which candidates have the high level of character and ethical standards that will make them fit seamlessly within your values-based organization can be difficult. It may take more time, money, and effort to find these individuals, especially since they may not be the best candidates on paper. But it’s absolutely worth the effort. Your organization will profit enormously from hiring people based on their character and not just their resume. Doing so will help strengthen your company’s culture, improve its bottom line, and add to the longevity of your business.
Donald Lee Sheppard emerged from humble beginnings to become a leader in employee benefits consulting and communications. During his career he rapidly rose through the ranks of companies such as Manulife, William M. Mercer, and Johnson & Higgins. Later, Sheppard built and sold his own employee communications consulting firm, Sheppard Associates. Currently the CEO of Sheppard Properties, LLC, as well as the author of The Dividends of Decency: How Values-Based Leadership Will Help Business Flourish in Trump’s America, he is actively involved in a host of charitable ventures.