Blog Post

Finding the Best Discovery-Driven Candidate for the Job

Whitney Johnson

Thinker, Writer, Speaker, Advisor, Doer

The discovery-driven approach to a career yields a resume that is unconventional and might be overlooked by HR personnel accustomed to looking for specific, albeit limited, markers of accomplishment and capacity, such as years of higher education or experience in consistent roles. But discovery-driven candidates have backgrounds that don't always fall in line with a typical linear career path. These are dedicated individuals who pursue passion instead of a title, adapt quickly when things don't go as planned and make the most out of opportunities, all of which makes them particularly appealing hires, when they're given the chance.

One example of a discovery-driven success story is Maureen Chiquet, a recent guest on my Disrupt Yourself podcast. Today, Chiquet is an accomplished businesswoman having spent almost a decade as the CEO of Chanel and author of Beyond the Label: Women, Leadership and Success on Our Own Terms. But to get to where she is today, Chiquet has taken an unconventional career path.

Her remarkable career illustrates why HR professionals should stop looking only for traditional markers of a good candidate and instead expand their search to discovery-driven individuals who may in fact be the best candidates for the job. Here are three ways to identify discovery-driven people when they walk through your door, and give them the chance they deserve.

1) Look Beyond Credentials

HR professionals should be open-minded about unusual degrees, different educational institutions and even the absence of higher education altogether. When hiring the right person for the job, focus on the skills they'll need for the role you're looking to fill, and determine whether these skills are present.

For example, you don't need a degree in communications for a marketing position. Chiquet studied film and theater in college, which didn't translate directly to the roles she was interested in pursuing. But her theater degree did mean that she was not only passionate, but also a talented storyteller, so she used these skills to eventually launch her career in marketing.

By recognizing that university degrees and disciplines don't predict what a job applicant may be able to contribute, you can focus on finding candidates with the skills needed to be successful, even if they don't have the credentials. Chances are, these are people that are nimble, jacks-of-all-trades that are willing to tackle anything you throw at them.

2) Embrace Adaptability

Creativity and innovation are two sides of the same coin, and they manifest themselves in a variety of non-conventional ways. Chiquet's theatre degree was intended to be a preamble to law school, but six questions into the LSAT, she realized law school was not for her. Since there was no plan B, Chiquet headed for France (a country she loved since she was a kid) and landed a job in the marketing department at L'Oreal.

Her bold move and and success proved Chiquet could make the most of an unpredictable situation—a quality HR teams would be lucky to find when interviewing candidates. Recruiters should watch for resume indicators that a candidate is flexible, imaginative and willing to adventure, as those are candidates who are more likely to stick with a company during times of change or turbulence.

3) Be on the Watch for Magnifiers

Small jobs can be magnified into large opportunities. Always be on the watch for magnifiers—candidates who are not too proud to tackle "small" tasks, but are also proactive, creative and willing to take measured risks. When Chiquet returned to the U.S. from France, she wanted to work in marketing at Gap, but with no retail experience, the best she could do was land a job in their merchandizing department organizing the sample closet.

Her next role wasn't much bigger than her first, but she found ways to make the most of it. "I was in the accessories department and my role was assistant merchandiser of socks and belts. But, I found ways within that opportunity to stake a claim and make a name for myself," says Chiquet.

Don't discount candidates that haven't held the most impressive titles. Instead look for signs that candidates have made the most of the responsibilities they've had, and used them as opportunities to learn and grow—it's a marker of a devoted and determined hard worker.

Chiquet has had a long, winding career. After leaving Gap, she had a stint at Old Navy, bounced back to Gap as president of subsidiary Banana Republic, and joined Chanel to begin her ascent to the peak position in the C-Suite. Today, post-Chanel, Chiquet is an author, speaker and consultant. She is also proof that discovery-driven candidates have just as much, if not more, to offer than those who follow traditional career paths.

Don't limit your companies success by limiting the candidates you consider for open positions.

Photo: Creative Commons

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A New Poseidon Adventure: Flipping Succession Planning Upside Down

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A New Poseidon Adventure: Flipping Succession Planning Upside Down

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The Hidden Costs of Ignoring Your Talent Management Strategy

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The Hidden Costs of Ignoring Your Talent Management Strategy

Building and maintaining a successful company hinges on having the right people to execute projects and drive results. People, we hear time and again, are your company's most valuable asset. But their success — and HR's ability to recruit, engage and retain them — depends on HR pros who are strategic decision-makers, armed with the proper tools to let them excel at their jobs. Modern HR professionals manage much more than payroll and benefits. But their technology tools, in many cases, haven't evolved past basic productivity software like email or Microsoft Word. HR simply can't be strategic with old-school tools that reduce people to statistics and give little insight into what the numbers mean. Emails and spreadsheets were not designed to deliver meaningful insights into people's performance, suggest when employees should be promoted or highlight skills gaps in a company. For that, HR needs a broader, more strategic set of talent management tools, which lets professionals manage every aspect of the workforce, from training and performance reviews to collaboration and succession planning. Yet, research shows that less than 25% of companies use a unified, holistic approach to their talent management. The Real Costs of "Doing Nothing" As a Talent Management Strategy The critical relationship between business strategy and HR strategy too often gets overlooked by senior leadership. While it may seem like the company is saving money by managing recruiting, training, performance and succession via manual and paper-based processes, in reality it’s costing your business more than you know. For example: Without a talent management strategy, a company with 2,000 employees is losing almost $2 million every year in preventable turnover alone. Businesses that don’t invest in learning suffer from decreased employee performance and engagement to such a degree that they can expect to realize less than half the median revenue per employee. That’s a direct impact on the business. In employee performance management, organizations without a focused strategy waste up to 34 days each year managing underperformers and realize lower net income. To learn more about the business impact of talent management and how to start building out your strategy, check out the eBook Why Your Nonexistent Talent Management Strategy is Costing You Money (And How to Fix It) and register for the March 19th webinar, Building the Business Case for Talent Management.

The Return of the Moderate Merit Budget – Wreaking Havoc on Pay for Performance

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The Return of the Moderate Merit Budget – Wreaking Havoc on Pay for Performance

With the economy now on steadier ground, most organizations have returned to administering a merit budget to the pre-recession levels of 3 to 3.5%. In the years immediately following the economic downturn, many merit budgets were eliminated entirely or were reduced significantly and reserved for a select segment of the employee population. Pay for performance has become a necessity for many organizations that are expected to accomplish more with fewer resources. I often get asked: "How can I truly award my top performers with such a limited budget? Should I do so at the expense of my ’Meets Expectations’ performers? What if I need to retain my ’Meets Expectations’ performers and giving them 0% to 2% increase puts me at great risk for turnover? But if I don’t recognize my top performers, don’t I risk losing them...?" These are difficult questions to answer, however you can determine the best solution for your organization by considering the following: Are your employees paid at market pay levels? Is your organization’s performance management process mature? Does your organization have other compensation programs in place to reward top performers (e.g. variable pay)? Market Pay If turnover is a concern, and your organization needs to maintain ’bench strength’ in order to achieve its strategic objectives, your biggest priority should be to ensure that you are paying your employees at market pay levels. Why? Historically, as the labor market strengthens, organizations become vulnerable in terms of losing people. Hiring and onboarding replacement talent is not only costly to the organization, but can also cause dissension among existing employees since new hires may be getting paid more. Be sure to stay abreast of market pay levels and trends, and use the merit budget to correct disparities. Performance Management Process Organizations vary significantly in terms of the maturity of their performance management process. Closely examine your organization’s process and look for ways to improve it. If there is a perception that one management team is an ’easier grader’ than the others, the process is inherently flawed and any pay for performance program will not be viewed as credible and fair by employees. A good place to start is to get a calibration process in place and communicate broad guidelines on expected distribution ratings. Variable Pay Programs Variable pay programs (e.g. bonuses) have become increasingly more popular across all industries and career levels. These programs provide the opportunity for employees to share in the organization’s success while not adding to fixed payroll costs. Some plans have an individual performance component which can be a very effective means to recognize top performers. However, in order for this type of program to be successful, individual goals and targets must be well documented and communicated. Again, this is largely based on the maturity of the organization’s performance management process which takes time to evolve. What are the best steps to avoid wreaking havoc on your pay for performance process? First ensure your pay levels are keeping pace with the market Continue to evolve your performance programs with calibration among managers and a rigorous goal setting process Promote variable pay plans to reward high performers without adding to fixed pay roll costs It’s not always an easy journey but, in the end, it’s best to use a measured approach that is based on business needs and a realistic assessment of your current programs and processes.

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