December 15, 2017

To Find High Performers, Stop Looking at Resumes


Great companies hire great people.

But where do you find great people? How do you locate the high-performing talent your organization needs?

To answer, that, we first have to look at the typical qualities of a high performer:

  1. Intelligence: Fairly self-explanatory.
  2. Passion: High performers love their jobs, are proud of their work, and are willing to go above and beyond.
  3. Grit: High performers work hard and persevere through tough times and challenging tasks.
  4. Integrity: High performers often make difficult decisions to achieve ideal outcomes. They allow their strong principles to guide them.
  5. Teamwork: High performers help others, often putting the needs of other people ahead of their own.

If we know what makes for a high performer, why is it so hard to find them? To put it simply, it’s because these qualities can’t be found on resumes.

Stop Centering Resumes

The trend in hiring today is to automate everything. This allows companies to measure every inch of the hiring process, capture data, and use it to improve their results.

The problem, however, is that the efficiency of the hiring process doesn’t exactly correlate to quality of hire. Despite this, we often blame the hiring process when new hires go wrong. We look for answers in new ATSs, new sourcing platforms, machine learning, etc. — but all of these tools focus on resumes. How will ATSs and AIs ever evaluate passion, grit, or integrity?

Let’s stop focusing on finding the right keywords on resumes and start searching in better places. Let’s stop posting so many jobs on our websites and hoping the high performers will submit their resumes; let’s start capturing the right people’s attention on social media.

High performers tend to have healthy online presences. Start searching for and engaging with high performers on social media instead of relying on resumes.

Shift to Video 

Another way to get high performers interested is to prioritize video in your recruitment efforts. Instead of relying solely on text-based job posts, try selling your roles through video.

Set up a professional video studio in your office. Get in front of the camera and record a five-minute video that covers the company, the role, the requirements, and what success means in the position.

Alongside your video job ad, include a clear call to action that makes it easy for high performers to apply. Don’t ask for their resumes. Instead, ask them to record videos, too.

Have candidates record 1-2 minute videos telling you why they are interested in the role and how they can help solve your problems. The candidate’s video presence will give you much more insight into whether or not they have the intangible qualities of high performers than a paper resume would.

Shifting to video also saves time: It takes less time to watch a few short videos than it does to sort through hundreds of resumes. Recruiters can invest this time saved into crafting and promoting strong employer brands to attract even more high performers. Job seekers won’t have to spend hours perfectly tailoring their resumes, either.

Highlighting High Performers in Interviews

Of course, these videos don’t replace phone screens or in-person interviews. These still have to be part of your hiring process.

To uncover a candidate’s high-performer qualities, you need to ask questions beyond their work histories. You need to delve into their experiences as professionals. Ask about times they’ve failed and how they’ve dealt with those failures. Ask them about times they took the initiative to get something done. Behavioral questions like these will expose your candidate’s high-performer qualities, or lack thereof.

When you have a shortlist of candidates, start comparing them to your existing high performers. What does success mean to your best current employees? What attributes determined their employability? The more closely a candidate resembles your current high performers, the more likely it is that candidate will become a top employee if you hire them.

Nader Mowlaee is an engineering career coach and recruiter who is inspired by motivating confidence in engineers.

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Nader Mowlaee is an engineering career coach and recruiter who is inspired by motivating confidence in engineers. He helps engineers improve their communication and leadership skills while educating and encouraging them to leave their fears behind and get to where they want to be in their careers as quickly as possible. Nader's vision is to empower engineers to become the strongest versions of themselves.