Hiring Superstars

Posted by Debi Kleiman on Mon, Mar 7, 2011

As spring, hopefully, approaches the Boston area, many companies are feeling excited about hiring newly minted graduates to help them create the next generation of superstar employees. It can often be challenging to find young talent – especially when our market space is changing so quickly. How do you find someone with the right skills, or even just the right raw materials to get up to speed quickly?

hire me resized 600One thing I’ve learned about hiring people who are fairly new to the workplace is that reading their resume of work experience isn’t necessarily going to give you the clues you need to make a good decision.

We just hired a recent grad for an entry level job here at MITX. She’s awesome, has a great attitude, and the smarts and habits that will help her learn quickly – I have no doubt she’ll be successful in this role. How did I know that after meeting her in an interview? What stood out to me about her experience was that she was a Division I athlete in college – field hockey is her sport of choice. She also coached kids for several years.

Anyone who played a sport in college, or knows someone who played a sport at that level, understands that there’s no way you are going to graduate if you aren’t incredibly organized, driven, ambitious, and resourceful. These are students who basically have two full time jobs while in college, plus they’ve reached a level of expertise that’s taken hundreds and hundreds of hours of dedication and practice. This is the kind of person who will not fail. Our new employee, by dint of her experience as a player and coach, knows the importance of teamwork, getting everyone aligned to a goal, and having a plan. Aren’t these exactly the skills you want in a star employee?

Now, I am not suggesting that everyone go out and find a Division I athlete to hire – what I mean is that job experiences alone don't tell the whole story. Sometimes it’s about finding someone who has such passion and dedication to something, anything, that they can find a way to be great at it while still having a day job.

Another example is a rock star I hired while at Communispace. Literally a rock star. By day he is an energetic, savvy, creative marketer, but at night he’s a drummer for an up and coming rock band. You don’t get to that level as a musician if you haven’t been totally dedicated, practiced, and planful about how you’re are going to succeed. And, of course, you need to work as a team to make great music.

My lesson: If your employees have certain characteristics in their play time, it’s likely that those same qualities will be evident in the workplace. So that’s my experience hiring great young people – what’s yours?