5 reasons why potential trumps accomplishments

So you think you’ve found that superstar candidate;  the one with the eerily perfect resume, and a list of accomplishments that mirrors exactly what you need. What’s the problem? For smaller businesses or startups, convincing that ideal candidate to come work for you can sometimes be challenging. Can you offer the same salary, benefits, and perks as larger organizations?

A way to get around this issue is to take a step back and rethink your hiring process. What if a long list of accomplishments wasn’t necessary? What if you focused instead on finding talented people with the potential to accomplish great things?

Here are five reasons why hiring for potential trumps hiring for accomplishments.

1) It can create excitement among current employees.

Research from Stanford University has found that the concept of ‘potential’ can actually have a pretty strong impact on a workplace. When someone perceived as having ‘high potential’ is hired, people get more excited about it than they would with someone who has a long resume of prior achievements. The authors liken this ‘rising star’ phenomenon to the way we idolize NBA rookies; there is simply a buzz generated about fresh, young talent. More importantly, people like playing (and working) with young talent because of the belief that they can be part of something great.

2) It can save money on salaries.

Someone without that stellar list of accomplishments is probably not going to demand the same kind of salary (at least not initially) as an industry veteran. Giving a greener candidate (with superstar potential) a chance and helping them grow within your organization is a great way to save on salaries initially — just remember to reward said superstar candidate when they fulfill their potential.

3) It helps your employer brand.

It doesn’t hurt to be able to say that someone got their start under your wing. Once that person has risen to the top of his or her field, you’ll officially be the place that started it all. It just makes you look great as an employer (and you’ll feel good giving someone the chance). The trick here is making sure you retain these talented people when the make their mark. It’s one thing to be seen as a company that gives people a chance; it’s quite enough to be seen as a starting off point.

4) It can get you better hires. 

Beta candidates (those who are thought to have the right skills without the experience) can actually end up being better hires. The concept is known as “induced reciprocity,” and it basically means that when people know they have been given a chance, they work a hell of a lot harder to gain the respect and approval of their employers.
5) There’s always room to grow.

Studies show lack of growth and training opportunities send top talent packing. The single biggest reason smart, highly-qualified candidates leave is a lack of opportunity for development. Employees want to learn through training opportunities, mentors, and just the general evolution of skills and job duties. Hiring someone with a lot of potential, and investing in their skills and training, will ensure you retain those employees as they grow and gain experience.

See also:
5 innovative ways to recruit top talent
Why people quit (and how to prevent it)


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