Over the past 40 years, I have reviewed at least 30,000 resumes and LinkedIn profiles and personally interviewed over 5,000 job candidates. After tracking the subsequent performance of hundreds of these people, it became apparent that there were clues in the resume and work history that accurately predicted the likelihood the person would be successful even in roles that were promotions, different jobs, stretch assignments, or in different industries.
Not surprisingly, the people who were the most successful generally had a different mix of skills and years of experience than listed on the original job description. The reason is a bit counter-intuitive: The most talented people do more and learn faster than their peer group. As a result, they get promoted more rapidly and therefore are lighter in terms of overall years of experience and depth of skills.
This pattern of achievement makes it difficult to find these people using traditional sourcing techniques. To get around this, I suggest recruiters source for just a few critical skills and generic titles in combination with clues indicating the person possesses what I call the Achiever Pattern. The Achiever Pattern indicates the person is in the top half or better of their peer group.
Here are some clues hiring managers, recruiters, and sourcers can use to spot the Achiever Pattern when reviewing resumes or conducting an interview with a candidate:
1. Demonstrates a fast growth rate. Those with the Achiever Pattern generally get promoted more rapidly than their peer group. Aside from a bigger title and job, this could also manifest as being assigned to lead larger or more important teams, or handling more important and more complex projects.
2. Exhibits strong technical and rapid learning abilities. The best hiring managers tend to push their most promising subordinates by giving them stretch roles, assigning them to difficult projects, providing early exposure to senior managers and influential executives, and giving them advanced training opportunities. Look for this pattern in the candidate’s past few jobs and ask how they got assigned to big projects and why. The pattern typically reveals the person’s core strengths, learning ability, and potential. I refer to this approach as the “Sherlock Holmes’ Interview.”
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