Passion is perhaps the most important component of performance. Blogs are providing a new window into what drives individuals that we’ve never been able to see on a resume.
In the course of building my own teams and recruiting for other companies, there was always a certain intangible quality I sought that was one of the strongest indicators of on-the-job performance.
In the interview process, you could see this intangible quality in their eyes when they talked about what mattered most to them. In the offer stage, you could see it when they answered “hell yes” to your job offer (vs. acting wishy-washy about it, which is usually time to pull out). And on the job, you could see it in the zest they applied toward the tasks at hand.
When I found someone with that certain “spark,” I could count on that person to go above and beyond traditional job duties, work harder and smarter, stay later, and think creatively to develop solutions to the challenges at hand.
Why Passion Has Been Hard to Find
What makes recruiting so difficult at times is that poor performers often have great resumes. Identifying someone with passion from looking at a resume, which is very likely to look and sound very similar to any other resume out there, is close to impossible.
In one instance, a past co-worker sent in a resume to a company I was working in. His resume looked outstanding, but I remembered from working with him that he never showed up on time, couldn’t stay organized or on task, regularly flaked on his co-workers and left them hanging, and was eventually fired for performance reasons. I knew from people who had previously worked with him that this was a pattern that had manifested itself throughout his career.
Yet here was his well-formatted resume that looked outstanding?on paper. I knew he could fake his way through the interview process, and maybe even provide references from people who were less affected by his poor performance.
It was in that moment that I understood how disastrous hiring decisions get made. Which is why a resume actually means very little to me, other than to ensure that a candidate has a stable work history (not a job-hopper, although my definition of this has changed over the years) and is achievement-oriented.
I actually prefer the resumes you might find on a site like LinkedIn, where an individual can manage their reputation as well as their experience summary. Yes, the comments that are put on their profile are moderated (i.e., the candidate can choose what goes on there), so you take them all with a grain of salt.
But you can often get a window into how passionate they are when their past co-workers use words like “visionary,” “above and beyond,” and “thought leader,” while also sharing specific experiences they had with an individual. The level of detail is what I usually key in on; I’ve found that poorer performers’ recommendations are more generic, like “this person was great to work with.”
What Blogs Tell You About Passion
Today, TechCrunch estimates that there are over 50 million blogs on the Web. Some of these are targeted toward family and friends, while an increasing number are work-related.
Just look at a blog like SystematicHR, written by an HR consultant at a major consulting firm, to see how a person’s passion for their work can be demonstrated on a blog. This is not a personal-glory blog like many of the ones you see out there. This person is clearly so passionate about the issues facing modern HR departments that he feels compelled to blog about it on almost a daily basis. And the intelligent content he produces is helping shape the dialogue and thinking about how we mobilize our workforces, tap into new talent pools, and apply technology toward our business challenges.
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At the recent Talent Unconference, I had the pleasure of meeting the individual responsible for this blog, who I’ll keep anonymous. It didn’t surprise me at all when I saw that same intangible spark that I had always looked for on the face of and in the conversation with this individual.
What This Means for Recruiters and Recruiting Departments
Clearly, just having a blog isn’t enough to determine whether someone will be a top performer. But it is an indicator, which means that there could be implications for recruiting departments that want to capitalize on this growing phenomenon.
Eventually, recruiters may become as good at quickly identifying top, emerging thinkers in the blogosphere as they are at scanning through piles of resumes for specific keywords and skill-sets. They may become as adept at doing a blog search on Google Blog Search as they are at mining active candidate resumes on Monster and CareerBuilder. Any strategic media research projects to identify potential sources of talent might start including blogs that employees read.
With a degree of irony, many of the candidates are beginning to consider their blogs as replacements for their resumes. As you can see by the responses, a few employers are starting to take notice. Like many new technology trends, some of the earliest adopters are in technology-related industries.
This will change and expand over time. In the gaming industry, both Electronic Arts and Red 5 realize the passion that bloggers bring to the table and are both becoming skilled at finding top candidates’ blogs in their industry.
Most recently, Red 5 launched what was perhaps the world’s most innovative recruitment marketing campaign targeted partially at an audience of smart bloggers they had identified.
At Microsoft, recruiters and other employees are encouraged to blog to spread the word about careers at the company and to evangelize new products. A new entrant to the recruiting space called Blogging Systems is helping employers like MetLife and Boston Scientific create communities of talent and interact with other bloggers.
If you’re looking for top performers, blogging may help recruiters identify candidates with a passion for what they do, which can translate into more returns for your organization.
Blogging is not the only indicator of a potential superstar employee, as the content being produced needs to be intelligent and not all-consuming for the blogger. But in a competitive market for talent, every potential advantage in identifying top talent needs to be explored, and the recruiting potential of blogs and bloggers is still relatively untapped.