Publications & Products
Volume 5, Issue 23

Why the Best Candidate Might Have an Imperfect Résumé

Imagine two qualified applicants apply for an open position. The first has a flawless résumé, but the second has job-hopped and went to a less prestigious school. Who's the best choice?

Regina Hartley, human resources manager at UPS, has terms for each of these applicants. In a TED Talk called "Why the Best Hire Might Not Have the Perfect Résumé," she calls candidate A a "silver spoon," someone who seems "destined for success." Candidate B she calls a "scrapper," someone who has overcome obstacles to get to the same point.

"A résumé tells a story," she says."Over the years, I've learned something about people whose résumé read like a patchwork quilt that makes me stop and fully consider them before tossing their résumé away."  

Scrappers, she says, are better equipped to handle challenges—and Hartley knows, because she is one. Raised by a single mother in a rough neighborhood, she says her family never owned their home, a car or a washing machine.  

"I was highly motivated to understand the relationship between business success and scrappers because my life could easily have turned out very differently," she says.  Many successful business leaders, she points out, experienced early hardships (such as having a difficult family situation or a learning disability). Even the worst experiences can result in growth and transformation, she stresses.  

"Without those experiences, they might not have developed the muscle and grit required to become successful," she says. Steve Jobs, for instance, was adopted, didn't finish college, job-hopped and had dyslexia.  

Scrappers, according to Hartley, have a sense of purpose that drives them to succeed and not give up. They tend to have a sense of humor and they know they have control over their own destiny. They also, typically, find mentors or supporters who bring out the best in them, says Hartley.  

"These people don't mind that I once worked as a singing waitress to get through college," says Hartley.  

Ultimately, companies who are committed to diversity and inclusive practices outperform their peers. A study by Diversity Inc. found that the most diverse companies outperform the S&P 500 by 25 percent.    


This article is from the Advancement Weekly, Dec. 7, 2015 issue.

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