When a friend from the startup world asked me about our hiring philosophy at Shoto Group, I realized that I had never put into words exactly what that philosophy might be. I know what I look for, but it usually fell under the “X-Factor” label. I thought this would be good to put into words, so here’s what I came up with.
First, hire for attitude. One thing that cannot be trained is attitude. I have seen firsthand a well–qualified candidate lead to disappointment once hired. It came down to hiring for what the person was on paper and believing his qualifications could be his salvation. It won’t happen and none of us have time for that. No matter where the candidate might fit into our company, someone who is positive, flexible and adaptable ranks well above where he or she may have worked or from what school he or she graduated. So what’s the takeaway? Save yourself the trouble and consider your candidate’s attitude with weight.
Second, hire for experience, but not the ‘working’ kind. We look for candidates with an adventurous past and an overwhelming excitement for life. We seek out active, highly–capable people who have a thirst for worldly experience and growth. Many times we look beyond our current borders, in fact, most of the people on our team have lived abroad, have grown up abroad or are currently living in a country foreign to their own. Why is this so important to us? Travel breeds creativity and adaptability. Travel fosters intelligence and brings about a positive attitude. These are all must–have’s for us.
I am what some call a Third Culture Kid (TCK): someone who spent a significant amount of his or her developmental years outside of his or her home culture. I seek out others who have similar backgrounds. I believe real diversity creates an amazing group dynamic, one where past experiences from different cultures come together to create highly effective ideas and strategies.
Having lived in Tokyo and Singapore during my adolescent years, I attended school with classmates from over thirty countries. This, I believe, will serve as the workplace of the future, where it will be natural to look not only to new cities for opportunities, but across borders. Both of my alma maters, the American School in Japan and the Singapore America School are a preview of what is to come, a prototype. And it’s happening at Shoto, too. We’re currently managing three projects full time, with team members from Albania, Bermuda, Bulgaria, Canada, England, Germany, Japan, Singapore and the US.
So, back to hiring for life experience. When you consider someone who has traveled around the world, they bring along the excitement for living that best fits our group. We aren’t tied to our desks; in fact most meetings take place while on different continents. Our most active project, developing and shooting a TV pilot, has involved a team that’s currently spread between Albania, Singapore, the US and a variable third country, usually India or Indonesia. We work remotely, using nothing more than our laptops, Skype and a concentrated focus on timezones. We work this way because we’ve chosen freedom over structure.
Whether you are in the small business arena or hiring for a publicly traded company, ask about the experiences your candidates have outside of the office or classroom. And while I’m just a tad biased, should you find yourself reading over a résumé and see the acronym TCK – give them a call and see firsthand the potential that lies within.
To see why Adam will always travel, click here.
*A version of this article was first published in SmartRecruiters BLOG