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The Unlikely Candidate – Clues Companies Miss When Looking for the Perfect Hire

Catherine Lang-Cline

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You have the perfect job description written. You’ve collected a stack of resumes and in that pile is the ideal person to fill the role your company has to offer. You’ve read about experience and job history and skill sets, and there are at least three that are a perfect match. Or are they?

In many cases, people find matches for their roles based on these things – experience, job history and skill sets. After all, why wouldn’t they? It seems like the best way to fill a role. But actually, there are some other important things to consider. Sometimes you need to think beyond just the written resume and take a look at the three dimensional person who is going to be sitting at your open desk every day. So what else should be top-of-mind?

One of the additional things you can look at is potential. Is there someone who covers all of the basics and can grow into the role? With promises of promotion, you may be able to get someone at a slightly lower salary and mold them into what you want. Not only can this be cost effective, it can produce better results because you’re not stuck with someone who is too attached to their old ways of doing things and unable to adapt to how your company works. People are often happier when they’re learning and growing on the job. Someone with lots of potential who receives regular positive feedback and added responsibilities may be a stronger contributor to your department than someone with more experience who hits a glass ceiling immediately and has nowhere to go.

Personality is very important to your culture and another factor to consider when hiring. Someone may look fantastic on paper, but then they are a miserable match for the environment you have created. Short job interviews often don’t convey a person’s natural personality or how they’ll interact day-to-day. Really test them either by phone or in-person to dig out their true personality and get a sense of how it will mesh with your team.

Lastly, try and read between the lines of the resume to see if you see any sort of ambition. Were they ever promoted? Does their job history reflect regular steps upward? Some roles will never change and to have someone with a lot of ambition would just be a struggle. But if you have a role that needs enthusiasm, spirit and someone thinking about how to better the company you might want to add an ambitious person to the resume pile.

Resumes are not black and white and you should start by meeting with the people that meet all of your criteria. Once they are there, look more closely and see what else they possess. Once you factor in all the intangibles, that “maybe” might end up being “the One” only because your gut said to give them a chance.

This article may be reprinted when the copyright and author bio are included. ©2011 Catherine Lang-Cline, Portfolio Creative, LLC.

Catherine Lang-Cline is co-founder and owner of Portfolio Creative, a workforce innovation firm that was named a fastest growing company in by Inc. magazine in 2009, 2010 and 2011. Portfolio Creative helps connect clients with creative talent in all areas of design, marketing, communications and advertising.


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