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  • Writer's pictureRobyn Mattison

Uncovering Raw Talent: The Key to Hiring Employees with Sky-High Potential

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The Challenge of Hiring High-Potential Employees

High-potential employees (HPE) are those with the capabilities and drive to move into more senior roles quickly. While their credentials may be limited due to their junior status, they have the raw skills and talent needed to excel as they gain experience. For startups and small businesses, especially those bootstrapping their growth, HPEs can provide tremendous value. By grooming impressive talent early in their careers, companies can develop future leaders deeply integrated into the organization's culture and values. 

However, spotting HPEs can be very difficult. With limited work experience and credentials, typical hiring processes often overlook them. Relying solely on resumes, past job titles, and pedigree can cause startups to miss hidden gems passionate to prove themselves. This leads to missed opportunities to build a strong bench of future managers, technicians, and innovators. Excessively depending on resumes also biases the hiring process towards those able to afford degrees from brand-name institutions.

The risks of such credential-based hiring are substantial. Culture fit may suffer if employees did not develop their skills in a scrappy, entrepreneurial environment. Missed opportunities to nurture talent can necessitate expensive external hires down the road. Shortcomings in technical or management skills may only reveal themselves after credentials-only vetting processes. Avoiding these pitfalls requires going beyond resumes to uncover high-potential talent.

The Traditional Hiring Process is Flawed

The traditional hiring process relies heavily on resumes, LinkedIn profiles, and a brief interview. Candidates submit their credentials, then come in to interview and try to make a strong impression in a short window of time. 

According to Chad Rubin, co-founder of ecommerce company Skubana, this common hiring process is "broken" because it fails to reveal a candidate's true potential. Rubin criticizes the flawed notion that you can adequately evaluate someone's capabilities and future performance based on a polished resume and a 45-minute conversation. This approach overlooks promising candidates without extensive credentials on paper or charisma in an interview setting. Relying too much on superficial qualifications prevents you from seeing the high-potential employees underneath.

A 3-Part Solution

The key to hiring high-potential employees that may lack traditional credentials is to take an alternative approach to evaluating candidates. Chad Rubin developed a 3-part process for identifying talent and potential that looks beyond just a standard interview.

The 3-Step Process:

1. Pre-Interview Research

2. Values-Based Interview

3. Skills Assessment

By combining these elements, you create a more complete picture of a candidate's abilities, work ethic, integrity and likelihood to thrive and grow into bigger roles at your company. Rather than relying on resume credentials like work history and education, this approach allows you to gauge raw aptitude and ability more directly.

The pre-interview research allows you to get a sense of the candidate's experiences and demonstrated interests before you meet them. The values interview focuses on alignment around principles rather than rote questions. The skills assessment tests competency in key areas required for the role.

Together, these three components allow a well-rounded evaluation of candidates with strong potential who may otherwise get overlooked due to lack of direct experience or credentials. This process allows their abilities and talents to shine through more clearly.

Case Study: Skubana

Implementing This Process

Other Keys to Hiring HPEs

When using this 3-part process to identify high-potential employees, keep these additional tips in mind:

Interview final thoughts - At the end of the interview, ask the candidate for any final thoughts or additional information they'd like to share. This gives quieter candidates a chance to add something they may have held back.

Look beyond pedigree - Don't dismiss candidates just because they lack credentials from elite schools or name-brand companies. Some of the best hires come from humble backgrounds and have potential that far outweighs their pedigree.

Develop intuition - There is an art to identifying high potential that goes beyond scientific assessments. Trust your gut feelings during the interview process.

Take some risks - Hiring is inherently risky, so don't be afraid to take a chance on a promising but unproven candidate. You may uncover a diamond in the rough.

The keys above can complement the 3-part process to help uncover high-potential talent that others overlook. With some intuition and willingness to take smart risks, you can build an outstanding team, even on a startup budget.

The Value of Finding Hidden Potential

Discovering and investing in high-potential employees can yield tremendous value for companies, especially startups and small businesses. Here are some of the key benefits:

Compound Growth Over Time. While a fancy resume may impress today, high-potential hires can grow exponentially more valuable as they gain experience and rise up in an organization. Their trajectory is steeper, enabling faster gains in skills, responsibilities, and impact over time.  

Innovation Culture. HPEs will often bring fresh thinking, new perspectives, and a willingness to challenge the status quo. This infusion of raw talent and energy helps foster a culture of innovation, creativity, and continuous improvement.  

Cost-Effectiveness. Less seasoned employees demand lower salaries at the outset. The payoff for identifying and developing high-potential staff is maximized when you can bring them on board early in their careers.  

Good Fit. HPEs who enter a company in junior roles are more adaptable to the company's culture and systems. They assimilate better than seasoned hires who have deeply ingrained habits built elsewhere. This ensures a tighter fit.

Loyalty, Investing in an employee's growth often builds goodwill and longevity. HPEs recognize the opportunity they've been given and may be more loyal to an organization that believed in them from the start.

The ability to spot raw potential before others allows you to build incredible value. High-potential employees, though lacking credentials, can become an organization's future leaders and drivers of innovation. With the right development and mentoring, their growth trajectories are steep. Finding this hidden value and investing in it compounds gains for years to come.

Ready to transform your business with a powerhouse talent pipeline? Mattison Management Consulting can help you unleash the full potential of your workforce. Elevate your small business to new heights – click here and start your journey to strategic growth today.

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