I hate resumes. Okay, “hate” may be a little strong, but I do think resumes are overrated. They tend to put prospective hires into a box and possibly limit companies from hiring outstanding employees.

See the full article on the Inside Indiana Business website.

Resumes as a hiring resource are helpful but limiting. Most resumes are a recitation of experience and therefore give hiring managers a reason to exclude a candidate. What’s more, relevant experience doesn’t necessarily make a great employee.

For example, a candidate with commercial property management experience would not appear to be a good fit at our lead generation company. However, by looking beyond the “resume” we found some traits that we thought would make her an excellent employee, and we were right.

There are certain traits of successful employees that are difficult to cultivate and are equally difficult to spot in a resume. The traits we’ve found to be good indicators of a successful fit, and how we uncover them, include:

1. Professional demeanor. The ability to interact professionally and effectively with peers and customers is an invaluable trait for any business. This is especially true for a business such as ours, which is tasked with interacting with our customers’ clients. Generally, it’s easier to train a skill than to coach professionalism, where mistakes can be costly to the brand. Employees who can think on their feet, make good decisions without being constantly monitored and skillfully represent a company’s brand are indispensable. An informal interview or phone conversation with candidates can reveal a lot about how they handle themselves.

2. Proper communications skills. The ability to write a cogent email using proper grammar and spelling is a dwindling skill. In the age of Twitter and text messaging, good writing is a real art form and something that most companies value. While employees can be coached to improve this skill, most companies don’t have the time or resources to monitor and edit every email. This is where we find resumes valuable. If candidates have spelling errors, typos or poorly-worded sentences in their resumes, they are not likely to be a good fit for us.

3. Good instincts. Throughout the work day, there are many instances when employees must make fast decisions. The ability to quickly weigh options and make good decisions is a necessity. How people do this can make a big impact on your business. Some employees are big-picture strategists, while others are tactical doers. Some are problem solvers and others are people pleasers who will promise anything. We use situational questions based on real-life scenarios to determine if candidates have instincts that mesh with our business.

4. Cultural fit. Every work place has its own culture. Some companies are casual and laid back, others are formal and have strict protocols. Some require employees to be available nine-to-five while others allow flextime. Hiring the industry’s most capable professional will fail if there isn’t a good cultural fit. When the Indianapolis Colts hired Andrew Luck, they did so not because he was the best quarterback in the draft, but because he was a good fit with the coaches, players and offensive design. That strategy paid off. We are very open about our culture during the interview process and ask candidates how they can contribute to our culture.

5. Career track. Some employees will be interested in moving up the corporate ladder, while others are interested in working and then tending to other obligations and interests. There should be room in any business for all different roles. Regardless of career ambitions, all employees are interested in feeling valued and recognized. We encourage applicants to talk about their interests outside of work and to envision where they’d like to be a few years down the road, and we keep this conversation going even after the candidate is hired. This fosters a work environment where aspirations are on the table and conversations about the future are easier. Recently, one of our employees decided he wanted to go to nursing school and was confident in discussing it. This has allowed us to structure a part-time position for him, which gives him time to study and allows us to keep a good employee.

Finding the right employees is always a struggle for high-growth companies, but getting creative and looking beyond resumes can uncover some gems.