Continuing on our saga to hire good candidates – here is what we are looking for. I believe this applies both for our internal hiring at both Pragna and SmartCloud companies as well as the hiring projects we undertake for our clients. Essentially there is a lot of difference between high potential hires/candidates and just another hire/candidate. Though its not always possible to hire the “high potential” ones, one can atleast try to evaluate if we have found one! There sure is a very short supply of the high potential hires which is probably the only reason why Pragna even exists.
Lets see what defines a high potential candidate (Hire)
1. Ambition – I would rate this higher than the others just from the fact that we are talking about a “high potential” hire and not just another hire. Ambition drives people to scale heights beyond their means and wild dreams. Makes the impossible possible. This is #1 for high potential hires. So, sometimes I get excited when I meet people with ambitions and sometimes have been guilty of overlooking other things :-(.
2. Ability – One could argue this should be #1 (maybe true for regular hires). This is to validate some of the qualities/capabilities that one needs in oneself to achieve the ambitions. Some of these can be tested easily in the interview process and some probably is a gut call or a marginal call based on prior work history.
3. Agility – This is extremely important for high potential hires, that one demonstrates flexibility (especially in startup environments) and also tendency to take a step back to review/analyze, identify root causes and always to keep an open mind to change, feedback, business strategy, criticism etc. and should have openness to share thoughts and learn.
4. Achievement – If the hires/candidates have certain amount of experience, then the above must have resulted in some achievements in their careers. I would think identifying their achievements with special emphasis on the above areas would give proof points about their potential. I don’t think its right to measure this in terms of $ revenue achieved or the valuation of the company (which I have myself been guilty of in the past), but more in terms of overcoming the adversities and challenges to achieve meaningful outcomes.
Well that’s it, The four A’s to find the high potential candidates; gives me little bit more structure to the interviews I need to do at Pragna and SmartCloud.
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Many organizations identify “Passion” as a very critical component in the candidate hiring process. No doubt I have had personal experiences of my own performance as well as others that I have seen vary based on their passion and the inherent drive towards a given task.
This becomes even more critical in leadership roles where one has to constantly define and pursue a mission. Last week I heard Dr. Vivek Mansingh (currently R&D head of Dell in India) speak at the Leadership summit on a topic – Leadership begins where Logic ends. He says that majority of our brain area is the emotional part and very small portion is actually the logical part (for which I could find some scientific evidence online). Regarding the assertion that Einstein used only 4% of the brain, how much do we use? I couldn’t locate any real evidence and most articles I read on this topic seem to suggest that the 4% number is more a myth. However one thing was clear from his experience as well as mine that normally individuals use a small portion of the brain and the rest requires some emotional thrust to put to use.
So what happens with finding individuals who have passion for a certain task or job is that it triggers their emotional part of the brain and channels all the energies to the specific task or goal. That’s how seemingly normal people start achieving great things that once seem impossible. It’s the constant drive, hunger, energy, commitment that “Passion” brings in to achieve greater results.
That provides some logic around the need to identify “Passion” for the mission/task/project however hazily one can gauge become as critical as the skill evaluation in the hiring process for key people in a company.
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Many folks have asked me – How does one determine if a resume is suited for Full-time (FTE) vs. Contract positions? The fundamental difference is in the intent for the Contract position is a specific short-term skill need whereas FTE is a hire for company for a specific skill with long term horizon where the employee could perform different roles/jobs in the company over time. There is no fool proof method, but below are certain characteristics that hold good most of the times, if not always:
Full-time or FTE hiring:
- Average tenure in previous jobs (atleast 3 yrs or more in US; so candidates have longer term horizon)
- More emphasis on academic qualifications
- Look for professional growth (has the candidate grown in skill/level of performance over time)
- Focus on overall candidate strengths especially in core fundamentals / concepts and Analytical skills vs. only specified skills (this is an important aspect since specific skills can be learnt over time and may become less important once a specific project is completed)
- Check if candidate has experience in a similar type of company (size, functional area etc.)
- Emphasis on soft skills like team management, program management etc.
- Focus on good matching of required skills and experience wrt to job requirements
- Look for breadth of project experience and types of projects and compare against current project they are going to work on; match the two as much as possible
- # of years of experience as a contract or consultant
- Ability to adapt quickly (e.g., flexible with process; deliverables etc. vs. having own strong views on them)
- Look for special attributes identified by hiring manager (for example, Analytical skills maybe important for a particular manager but generally less important for contract positions)
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