While employees with diverse skills and backgrounds are necessary to build a stand out company, I find that there are several commonalities in great employees. These are what I look for when I look for talent:
An individual with a track record of success. I’m not just looking for someone who was promoted at his or her last job and the one before that (though I am looking for that). I am looking for success over a long period of time. I want to work with the individuals who got straight As in school and did ballet, the ones who had lemonade stands that did better every summer, the ones who got a scholarship to college and excelled there. But it’s not perfection I’m looking for, or even the balanced resume. I’m looking for a person who is driven. Someone who struggled in school, but who build several successful ventures while there, very well might be my perfect candidate.
Someone who doesn’t take no for an answer. Some people see barriers; others see opportunities. The best employees have likely been told they “can’t” many times. And yet, they did not let that deter them. Beyond talent that comes out of top business schools, I am even more inspired by those who get great grades at second tier schools, who have a little bit of an underdog mentality, and who are eager to go out and show the world how special they are. We all do our best work when there’s no entitlement to rest on and when we have to get voted onto the team. The best employees are the ones who are scrappy and have grit.
A person with a following. If this individual goes somewhere, will they inspire others to join? Never underestimate the power of someone’s recruitment ability. Great people know other great people and a key lieutenant or some fabulous classmates might soon be clamoring to come to your company.