Only Assets Need Apply

These strategies and tools can help hiring managers identify assets from average candidates.

By Matthew Beecher Nov 1, 2011

November Cover

Corporate standardization has caused hiring managers to develop a checklist mentality rather than an asset mentality. In recruiting, hiring managers often fill positions based on corporate-specified education levels and years of experience. This two-step checklist can provide a false sense of completion to hiring managers. They feel accomplished when an applicant meets corporate requirements. When managers settle into the checklist mentality, they often fail to identify how the candidates can further enhance the entire workplace.

Hiring managers must shift their approach to an asset mentality. A manager with an asset mentality looks to the characteristics of the candidate and his or her potential to improve the organization. The manager focuses on the strengths and skills of the applicant that may enhance a specific department. In an asset frame of mind, a hiring manager begins to take on a consultant role, looking at inefficiencies and weaknesses in the department and determining characteristics and strengths that may improve those problems. With this shift, hiring moves from filling a void to mitigating corporate inadequacy.

Focus on Advancement

Hiring managers must acknowledge how their decisions affect the organization. Once hired, employees quickly become assets or liabilities in how they affect the environment.

Average employees typically become an additional liability and expense. Average employees often meet job requirements but choose not to exceed them. Even though they have strengths to bring to the organization, they do not use those strengths. They often rob the company of profit by providing less than their best. These employees are focused on completing the job, not helping the company succeed. Without a focus on the health of the company, average employees can cost money in careless errors and time mismanagement.

Leverage Strengths

The best employees are assets. These employees typically exceed their pay grades in value and contributions. Asset employees are employees who continuously improve the organization. These advancements can come in a variety of ways but are typically financial or cultural. These employees use their strengths to improve inefficiencies and cut expenses. They often strengthen their corporate cultures by fostering teamwork and corporate respect.

In summary, average hires:

  • Maintain the organization.
  • Use work time for performing non-emergency personal tasks.
  • Give minimum effort to complete the job at hand.

Asset hires:

  • Improve the organization.
  • Use nearly all work time, including downtime, to advance the company (for example, through special projects) or to advance the company’s culture (such as by engaging in co-worker edification).
  • Give best effort to complete the job at hand.

A strength given is not a strength used. A resume should contain an individual’s historical display of strengths. However, the hiring manager must ask how a candidate consistently uses his or her strengths to advance the organization. Asset employees can clearly provide examples of how they improved a prior organization. In turn, the hiring manager can identify if the strength displayed aligns with a departmental void.

Sample interview questions for determining consistent use of strengths are:

  • At your previous job, how important was your role in helping the company make a profit?
  • How have your personal strengths directly improved your prior places of employment?
  • What are two problems at a prior organization that you addressed, without the prompting of a manager? Describe your action steps in those situations.

Focus on Verification

Hiring decisions must help an employer add value, not just fill a void. Since nearly all departments have potential efficiencies that can be gained, a hiring manager must make use of additional tools to prove that a candidate will become an asset employee:

Recommendation letters. Four letters of recommendation should be required to verify how candidates use their strengths. Two letters of recommendation should be professionally based; two letters of recommendation should be character-based.

Asset employees use their strengths to improve the organization

Pre-interview questionnaire. Examples of prior employment achievement are often difficult for the candidate to provide in an interview setting. A pre-interview questionnaire should be required with an application to provide solid proof and examples of past achievement. A professional reference could be used for verification.

Transcripts. If a formal education is a requirement of the job, a transcript should be required. Transcripts can provide vital information on an applicant’s choices and historical performance.

Hire Only Assets

Asset employees are vital. Changing from a checklist hiring approach to an asset hiring mentality can prove invaluable in increasing corporate profitability. Every new hire directly impacts a company’s culture. Each hiring decision provides an opportunity to hire an asset who can revitalize departments and companies.

The author wrote The X-Factor Employee: Hiring and Becoming an Irreplaceable Team Member (CreateSpace, 2011).


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