Why You Should Never Wait For The Perfect Resume

A friend of mine told me a story about a Nike employee who was laid off not too long ago. Over 14 years, he had designed innumerable shoes, t-shirts and other apparel – including outfits for US Olympians. With a deep resume like that you’d think he’d get another design job quickly, but instead he found himself going to a series of disparaging job interviews. At his third callback – with a company that had already requested over 200 images from his portfolio – an interviewer asked, “So, do you know your way around Photoshop?”

He’s not alone. Over the past several years, millions of people around the globe have been left frustrated after an endless series of job interviews that went nowhere. In his book Why Good People Can’t Get Jobs: The Skills Gap and What Companies Can Do About It, Peter Capelli offers a number of reasons, in part blaming businesses for chasing the perfect resume instead of an actual person who has the core talent to do the job well.

Too few businesses are willing to invest in employee training and development, rather expecting prospective employees to hit the ground running with not much more than a job offer in hand. Capelli suggests that, instead, more businesses should invest time and money into hiring people who have the raw talent and aptitude to eventually be very successful. Then they need to effectively train and grow them within the role and company. Like any investment, it carries risk – but also a huge upside.

This was definitely my experience working for Stryker , a Fortune 300 medical device company. Stryker was willing to invest in raw talent with limited experience and developed a very effective policy of identifying the strengths of their candidates and employees, placing them in jobs where they could use those strengths as much as possible, focusing on the development of strengths instead of weaknesses, and providing industry and role specific training.

But Stryker is still in many ways an exception. Too many businesses refuse to hire talented people that need training and development. Instead, these organizations are opting to leave positions open – often for long periods of time – negatively impacting their business results and other employees trying to pick up the slack. Admittedly, from time to time you will get lucky enough to find the “perfect” resume coupled with unmatched talent but, it will most likely not happen fast enough or often enough to meet the resource needs to grow your business.

Steer clear of the “perfect” resume syndrome when recruiting. Always err on the side of hiring employees that have more talent than experience, but who can be world class at what you are asking them to do with specific training and development. Establish a strong Learning and Development function and culture – coupled with leaders and managers adept at employee development – that can turn raw talent into super star performance.


Published on Forbes, 6th May 2013.

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