As a CEO, I often wonder what I am supposed to be doing. I have been very successful at hiring people better than me in almost every facet of the business. Even the people under them are better than me at whatever it was I did when starting up. This isn’t false modesty, it’s true. Of course, they were not better than me when I first hired them but they had the potential to be better and above all the right attitude, in that they wanted to be the best they could.
‘Hire for attitude, train for skill.’ is an expression that I hear banded around blandly among some large companies. What is ‘the right attitude’ and how do you identify it? Personally, I still review virtually every CV that comes into the company and I see it as my role to draw up a shortlist for Managers to select from. This is not just because I have the time and they do not, but also because hiring the right people is absolutely key to success. So what do I look for?
As a small or medium sized company in a not very glamorous area of business, we could not attract the very best graduates from the top schools, even if we wanted to. Instead, I look for aspiration, evidence of hard work, an interest in learning, flexibility and common sense. I would rather take someone who grew-up in a tough neighbourhood but made it to a second-tier college than someone who is a product of a middle-class production line education, unless I can see other evidence of some real ‘oomph’ on their CV. Educated people, who have got-off their butts to find a better life in a new country and who are working at jobs way below their skill levels also tick a lot of boxes for me. These are the kind of evidence of attitude that flag a CV to me as having potential They are often the type of CV that a large company’s HR department or recruitment agency would overlook in their search for the ideal vanilla candidate. I rarely do vanilla. Trust me, I have chosen Tutti Frutti on many occasions!