As the CEO of an SME, I often wonder what I was supposed to be doing. I had been very successful at hiring people better than me in almost every facet of the business, which is key to building a strong management team. Even the people under them were better than me at whatever it was I did when starting up. This isn't false modesty; it's true. Of course, they were not better than me when I first hired them but what was important was that they had the potential to be better and had the right attitude, in that they wanted to be the best they could.
'Hire for attitude, train for skill.' is an expression that I hear bandied around blandly among some large companies. What is 'the right attitude', and importantly how do you identify it? As CEO, I would review virtually every CV that came into the company. I saw it as my role to draw up a shortlist for Managers to choose from. I didn't do this because I had the time and they didn't. I chose to do this because hiring the right people is the key to success. So what do I look for in a CV?
As a small or medium-sized company in a not very glamorous business area with a tight budget, we could not attract the top business schools' best graduates, even if we wanted to. Instead, I look for aspiration, evidence of hard work, an interest in learning, flexibility and common sense. I prefer to take someone who grew up in a tough neighbourhood but made it to a second-tier college than someone who is a product of a middle-class production line education unless I can see other evidence of some real 'oomph' on their CV. Educated people who have got-off their butts to find a better life in a new country and are working at jobs way below their skill levels also tick many boxes for me. These are the kind of evidence of attitude that flag a CV to me as having potential They are often the type of CV that a large company's HR department or recruitment agency would overlook in their search for the ideal vanilla candidate. I rarely do vanilla. Trust me, I have chosen Tutti Frutti on many occasions!