As our lives become evermore entwined with technology, a sector that consistently reinvents itself at a blistering pace, areas of professional expertise are likely to become obsolete with increasing speed. At the same time, in order to survive and thrive, the unsung qualities that nearly every successful businessperson or creative possesses – the skills that you can’t put on a resume – will become more important.
What are they? The simple, high-level skills that have always aided and abetted innovation: curiosity, initiative, adaptability and resourcefulness. They are the qualities that signify a nimble mind able to flex to a variety of demands and easily acquire new professional skill sets. Unfortunately, they are also almost impossible to teach.
And yet when we are hiring the employees that will determine our companies’ futures, it’s standard practice to fall back on 20th-century thinking – a hiring method that focuses on pedigree (Ivy Leagues and MBAs) and industry-specific experience. Yet, whereas rote skills like learning how to calculate ROI can be taught, the crazed cliff-jumping mindset of the true innovator cannot.
Would we not be better off then focusing on how to identify truly inquisitive self-starters? Here are a few tips for doing so:
- Look past the resume. Experience can certainly be the result of past initiative taken, but it can also be the result of mere circumstance.
- Past initiative is the best indication of future initiative. Look for examples of leadership positions and “initiative-taking” instances in a person’s history.
- Probe a candidate for their true interests, regardless of what they are, and then measure the extent to which the candidate pursued those interests.
- Suss out what types of roles they have played in the past and ascertain if they have worn many hats (e.g. designer, coder, writer, etc) to better gauge their future adaptability.
- Assess their approach to problem solving by asking them how they would tackle a task that their current training would not help them complete.
When you stumble across a true 'do-er,' someone that generates ideas, takes action, and sees a project through, you must recognize your good fortune, whatever their background.
***The Behance team researches productivity and leadership in the creative world. These entries are adapted and edited by Jocelyn K. Glei from the Behance team's past articles and research. Behance runs the Behance Creative Network, the Action Method project management application, the Creative Jobs List, and develops knowledge, products, and services that help creative professionals make ideas happen.