Entrepreneurs

Council Post: Hiring For Culture: Find And Grow Top Talent Based On These Five Traits

By Mario Peshev, CEO of DevriX. Business Advisor for $5M – $100M SMEs. Scaling businesses digitally to 500,000,000 monthly views.

The employment market has transitioned through multiple phases since the beginning of 2020. 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate in the U.S. is 5.9% as of June 2021, down from nearly 15% reported in April 2020. In the spring of last year, lockdowns and preventive measures had severely affected most on-site sectors, and remote work led to limited opportunities for fresh graduates looking for internships and entry-level jobs. Simultaneously, many who would be considered top talent chose to retain their occupation, resulting in a limited pool of experienced applicants for the majority of the mid-sized businesses on the market.

With the ongoing transformation in employment opportunities, talented Generation Z and Millennials are still left high and dry, waiting for companies to loosen up their recruitment policies or get back to their normal office routines before the end of the year.

Many entrepreneurs fail to fill strategic positions in marketing, project coordination and even assistant-level jobs primarily due to not knowing what traits to seek while hiring against a traditional job description.

After my team and I successfully closed a recruitment round, onboarding 15 new hires earlier this year, we defined the five leading components that helped us seek and close incredible people who successfully sift through billable work without the expected degree or formal experience.

1. Motivation

During interviews, I disclose our hiring priorities with each and every applicant.

We hire for motivation, culture fit and skills — in this order. By “skills,” I mean key traits that make an individual suitable for the job, regardless of their qualification or former experience.

With the boom of boot camps and online classes over the past five years, gaining an additional qualification is more popular than ever, especially during the pandemic. Showcasing interest in the field and sufficient commitment to the craft is enough to grow an individual to the next level with the right onboarding program.

Unless you are hiring for a VP or a director role, consider breaking down the job responsibilities into actionable tasks that could be picked up during the onboarding process. This still requires some added investment on your end, but the long-term results are often worth it.

2. Coachability

Top talent can learn new skills quickly, making them indispensable in all sorts of industries that evolve continuously. Look for patterns in the learning habits of the applicants.

• Have they taken new classes recently?

• What was a new skill they had to acquire in a short period of time?

• What does their thought process look like when you ask them to analyze an unfamiliar problem?

• How do they respond to critical feedback during the interview cycle?

Fresh talent should be moldable — capable of building the right mental models and gathering the essentials quickly. Seek for the right signals and vet the sharp, self-driven applicants in the process.

3. Time Management

Adhering to deadlines and sticking to procedures is contingent on demonstrating great time management skills. 

Arriving on time (or 10 minutes early) for an interview is the first indication you can quantify. Look for their former job profile (if any) or organizational activities they picked up during college. 

Great applicants successfully juggled school with a job, have been promoted to supervisors in retail or fast-food chains and take their responsibilities seriously. Time management is sought after in every single industry so feel free to dive deeper into their background to uncover possible problems or positive indications in this area.

4. Organization Skills

Team collaboration is only possible through adhering to processes and sticking to your backlog at work.

Inquire into how applicants manage their weekly backlog including personal chores, meetings with friends or homework assignments. Even fresh graduates often use a calendar application to keep track of their duties or use a digital tool to manage notes and to-do lists. They may surprise you with hitting a personal goal such as losing 30 pounds in three months or learning a new language by following a progressive neurolinguistic program. Some interviewees we’ve met had to help their grandparents after school or support the family business while meeting expectations in their classes.

Look for highly motivated individuals who take their responsibilities seriously and have the right attitude toward achieving goals. 

5. Communication

Nat Turner, an enslaved Black American from the 19th century, is often credited for saying, “Good communication is the bridge between confusion and clarity.” Stellar communication skills are required in every step of the process — from successfully interviewing the applicant through their onboarding process toward their journey to the next promotion.

Top applicants are capable of asking the right questions and formulate complete sentences built on top of their thinking process. Sharp individuals think quickly, analyze a situation with the surrounding context in place and provide alternative options whenever they lack a complete answer.

Critical thinking — along with creative thinking — are two additional traits around solving complex problems and finding unconventional solutions to existing problems. Prepare some provoking questions and let the applicant demonstrate their attitude to solving new challenges.

Final Thoughts

Millions of students graduate every single year. Combined with other smart individuals who lost their jobs over the past year and employees who go through additional qualifications via boot camps and online training courses, the employment market has access to a broad pool of individuals eager to receive a chance.

Apply these five principles during your hiring process to uncover the best talent out there and build long-term, thriving business relationships that last for years to come.

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