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Don't be Afraid to Hire Mutts.

The Westminster Dog Show, the Daytona 500 of dog shows, wrapped up recently. While the dogs are cute, it is kind of a surreal experience – to watch the diverse breeds competing. Dogs of all shapes and sizes, each one a champion that represents their “ideal breed” standards, compete for “Best in Show.”

I have two rescue dogs – Finn and Teddy – both have great personalities and are mixed breeds. They are fun, eager to please, smart, and trainable. By most measures they are great dogs. They are welcome at dog parks but not at dog shows due to their questionable pedigree.

There are parallels to hiring talent. Many managers focus too much on the “pedigree” on a resume and they can overlook some spectacular candidates. By focusing on the “show dogs” they might miss candidates that will help their company survive and thrive.

Here is an example:

Candidate A went to Duke, had great co-ops and was picked up for a rotational leadership program with a Fortune 100 bank. He has spent time in marketing, sales, and operations, eventually landing in a banker role where he has worked for several years in a branch location. His primary role is ostensibly selling the bank’s financial products to customers.

Candidate B enlisted in the Marines out of high school. He did two tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan. He was rapidly promoted and served as a squad leader. Before leaving the Marines, he served as a recruiter in a tough region, but always made his quota. After separating from the Marines, he landed a job selling cars while pursuing a degree at an online university. He just completed his degree and is looking for a new role.

Candidate C did not finish college – her dad died suddenly, and she was forced to drop out and support her mom and siblings. After hopping through retail and service jobs, she got a job as a receptionist at a demolition company. After a few years worked her way into an outside sales role – she’s been crushing it (pun intended), landing big jobs for her company to demolish and creating a secondary revenue stream of selling the scrap rebar and metals.

If your company was looking to hire for an outside sales role and comparing resumes, who would you hire?

Candidate A has the best resume - but really it’s a trick question – I would say there is not enough data. The better question is “Who would you interview?”

The correct answer is you should interview all three.

Many hiring managers are easily wowed by a resume – with name-brand colleges and companies. Which only tells a small part of the candidate’s story. Let’s face it, life can happen and not everyone has a linear resume that flows from high school to college to one prestigious position after another –Without bringing them in to interview or at least calling on the phone to hear their story, can miss out on some A-players. If a candidate has at least some of the elements you need for them to be successful in a role, a 20 minute call might surprise you and open up the field. The candidates that have had life knock them down and gotten back up and still found a way to me successful are the kind of people you need on your team.

To reinforce my point, check out this TED talk.

HR pro Regina Hartley argues the benefits of hiring “scrappers” whose resume shows they have fought through some difficulty.

As she points out, some of the most successful people in history do not have the same pedigree of their peers – their resumes are littered with failure and adversity. Business is a full-contact sport, and hiring the right candidate who can bring passion, resilience, and different experiences is the key to outperforming your competition.

Have you found success hiring an unconventional candidate? We’d love to hear the story – comment below or shoot us a note.

As always, we thank you for reading! We also appreciate any likes, shares, or comments. If you are looking for the right people for your team and need help let us know. We’d like to hear from you.

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