Resumes get candidates in the door. But a piece of paper can’t do the job once they’re hired. I’m a firm believer in hiring people, not work experience. Here’s a prime illustration.
Last week I was sitting in Starbucks waiting for a meeting when I noticed a company truck pull into the parking lot. Three guys jumped out and came inside.
I could tell from the way they were interacting that the driver was the boss. They ordered coffee and waited for the barista to whip up their drinks. Just then the three men looked out the window and noticed a young man on a bicycle steering toward the building. At this point my attention was grabbed as well, and we all watched this kid lock his bike to the rack outside.
You might wonder what’s so fascinating about a bicyclist heading into Starbucks. Nothing, really—except for the fact that it was a blustery 12 degrees outside. As the cyclist made his way into the building and walked past the three men, the boss addressed him with a sincere comment.
“Must be cold out there on that bike,” he said.
“A little bit,” the young man shrugged.
“How far did you drive your bike in this cold weather?” another of the men asked.
I saw three jaws drop to the floor—make that four including mine.
“You heading into work?” the boss man asked the cyclist.
“Yes,” he said, “I work right next door and I start in 15 minutes.”
From there I observed the three men chatting up this young, brave biker stud. They were clearly impressed that he had not only biked 15 miles in frigid weather to get to what was most likely an unglamorous service job next door, but he also managed his time well enough to ensure he could stop for coffee without clocking in late. Talk about a solid work ethic.
As I watched them leave, the boss pulled out his business card and handed it to the cyclist. He said his company was growing and he’d like to talk to the young man about an opportunity to join his team. The cyclist graciously accepted the card, shook hands and parted ways.
I sat there for a while processing the significance of what just took place in front of me. See, I live in this world of talent acquisition, and I understand the challenges businesses are facing when it comes to finding talent in a low-unemployment environment. Companies are looking for candidates that check all the boxes—specific qualifications, narrow experience, highlighted skills. But the intangibles don’t show up on a resume.
Is this person hard-working?
Is he responsible?
Can he manage his time?
Will he be committed to the job?
Is he the kind of person I want on my team?
I witnessed an employer recognizing all these important qualities in an individual at a coffee shop. And I thought, how brilliantly creative. The young cyclist wasn’t there for an interview. He wasn’t answering polished questions or justifying his work experience. The boss in this scenario didn’t even know what the young man’s vocational interests or training entailed. But he saw that he was committed. And that was all he needed to spark an invitation.
In order to find talent, employers today must be thinking outside the box. They must be willing to take some risks and look beyond the usual checklist. Are you truly looking for talent in all places? If not, you might be missing the best talent right under your nose—or your coffee cup.