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Hire The Challenged

I Hire The Challenged

From Career Tips, 2021 Volume 12, December 2021


Women navigating obstacle course
Photo by Igor Rodrigues on Unsplash

Have you ever had a candidate who seemed to breeze through their career, for whom it appeared everything came easy?


For me, this raises an immediate red flag: Suspicion.


  • How can everything really have gone that smoothly? 
  • What are they not telling me?


If the candidate satisfies me on that point, and convinces me that they really have avoided the bumpy path that often trips up others along the way, then the 2nd red flag arises:


  • Can they really handle the job?


I don't hire because the water is always calm, and I just need someone to use a paddle to gently guide the boat. I want someone who can weather the storms, and dig in to take charge when we hit the rapids!


In other words, I want someone who has a demonstrated track record of overcoming challenges.


I remember reading about an academic study years back that compared career success of those who were straight-A students vs. those who had a more mixed academic record. The conclusion was that those with the mixed record were, on average, more successful.


One reason posited was that they were more used to working hard for their grades, and therefore weren't thrown for a loop by a roadblock, while the straight-A students weren't used to having to work that hard, and were more likely to give up quickly.


Now this is obviously a very simplistic look at it, but I feel like there's a grain of truth there.  I'd welcome your reactions.


But what does all this mean to one in a career search?


Often candidates are afraid to get into challenges they've faced, thinking that they will be showing weaknesses that could get them ruled out. This leads to worry about when the question will come up about that gap in their resume, the reason they left their last job, why they had so many short term assignments, etc.


My message is this:

  • Embrace your challenges!
  • Present them confidently, showing how you have overcome them and what you have learned from them that prepares you to succeed in the future.
  • Demonstrate how you will be the person who is unfazed by roadblocks, and figures out how to move around them.


This will make you one of the most valuable employees I could hire.


Obviously, you need to present them the right way … For more on this, read these.


And if you're struggling with how to do this effectively, perhaps we should talk.


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