What About the Not So Ideal Candidate Profiles?

That's not a valid work email account. Please enter your work email (e.g. you@yourcompany.com)
Please enter your work email
(e.g. you@yourcompany.com)

Man with lots of wasted paper A lot of ideal candidate profiles are going to look the same, because many recruiters have the same generic ideas on what makes a great candidate. It’s the same old, same old. We look to key talent, identify their traits, values and motivators and then create ideal candidate profiles around these factors. Has anyone noticed that those ideal candidate profiles are more what we think they should be, rather than what they really are? After you’ve pulled together a few of these profiles, you start to look for the same factors and focus on those, and those alone, leaving reality to the wayside.

Once we have the idea of an ideal candidate in our mind, we then place a box around those traits, and nothing else can get in. Candidates will either have these traits, or they won’t. There is little room for the expansion of profiles to include things that might not fall into the “ideal” box.


  • Works well with others
  • Team player
  • Self-motivated


  • Troublemaker
  • Opinionated
  • Office jerk

All too often, we see what we want to see when creating ideal candidate profiles. Recruiters and hiring managers neglect to track those traits that they might find less than desirable. These traits are probably part of what makes them key talent.

HR pro Crystal Spraggins contends that every organization needs a troublemaker or two. Although these office rascals may ruffle a few feathers, troublemakers are the movers and shakers of the business world. Spraggins said:

Complacency, ‘resting on your laurels,’ and waiting until the wheel squeaks before you decide to oil it has never been good business, and it’s definitely not good business in this current global, fast-moving economy. But a troublemaker can be your “secret weapon.” These folks are constantly thinking of smarter and better ways to do things, and who doesn’t need that?

A staff of “yes men” won’t get business very far either. When a company’s workforce doesn’t want to, or can’t state its opinions, the company’s success ends up being in the hands of a very few people who think the same way. Diverse and opinionated people are needed to challenge and ask “why?”. According to Paul Sloan in a RealInnovation.com article:

A maverick staff is not negative or cynical – on the contrary, they are passionate about their ideas. They do not defer to authority, they are dissatisfied with the status quo, they are impatient for change and they are angry about the obstacles put in their way. With employees like that, a business – and its products and services – should certainly stand out from the crowd!

It can often be too hard to see past the disdain for some employees to see what they are actually bringing to the table. Yes, she might talk over everyone, steal the sandwich with your name clearly written on it, and tell the worst, longest stories you can imagine, but there might be more to that office jerk. Margaret Heffernan, an Inc.com contributor believes in the power of hiring people that you don’t necessarily like. Heffernan said,

“Commonalities may be comfortable, but they also create blind spots. You want lieutenants who provoke feuds and dissent.”

When creating those all-important ideal candidate profiles, keep in mind those not so ideal traits that also play a big role in the success of the company. Being realistic when identifying traits of top talent is far more effective than living inside the “ideal” box.



By Maren Hogan