‘Harvard’ or ‘Cambridge’ and recently ‘Stanford’ are often mentioned in the same sentence as ambitious global business leaders and the political elite. Ivy League and other such prestigious universities are commonly viewed as reputable educational institutes that produce bright individuals who are highly sought out by the best organizations. It almost seems like gaining a degree from one of these schools is a fast track to success.
However, new data has revealed that employers have come to hold other traits in higher regard. When asked to choose between education, experience, and potential, a study carried out in the US found that 45% of US employers prioritize a candidate’s potential ahead of their experience (37%), personality (16%) and education (2%). This sentiment appears to be universal: a similar study in the UK found that 63% of employers consider potential to be the most important factor, substantially more than experience (35%) or education (2%).
Now, we at Visium weren’t really surprised by these results. It is true that earning a degree from a prestigious school can open many doors, but it can only take someone so far. When it comes to hiring great talent, it’s more important that employers determine whether a candidate is genuinely interested in the position and with developing new skills on the job, rather than focusing on solely where a candidate received their education. In other words, we have seen that a candidate’s potential – rather than education – is a better barometer for a successful hire.
We believe potential, or demonstrating the capacity to become or develop into something in the future, is the most important factor when looking at applicants. Someone with high potential is a problem-solver who will bring value to the role. When looking at a role as one of our recruiters, we are effectively looking for the best return on investment for our client – and it’s the determination and drive of a candidate that matters most. Candidates can always learn required skills on the job, whether that’s hard skills such as coding, or soft skills like client relations which develop with experience. What they can’t learn is curiosity, determination and enthusiasm for the work.
At Visium, we have always strived to put the best candidate for the position forward. Rather than focusing on a candidate’s education, we consider how they’ve previously tackled challenges to find creative solutions, how they’ve learned new skills and how they’ve utilized their work experience to provide value. Therefore, we insist on meeting each candidate before they get sent to our clients. This may take a bit more time than our competition, but we believe that it results in better candidates for your clients, and better jobs for our employees.
We recommend that you not discredit a candidate simply because they have never worked in a particular role before. Instead, we ask ourselves the following questions when going through their resume and interviewing them to determine their potential:
Is this person a problem-solver? Have they provided examples that demonstrate their ability to take initiative, adapt or think creatively to find a solution?
In previous roles, did the candidate take initiative to invest in their personal development, such as joining a course, because it opened up a new opportunity?
Do the individual’s questions reflect a genuine interest in the opportunity, and are they seeking clarity to determine if this is the right role for them?
Is the candidate able to draw a parallel between their previous experience and this job’s requirements?
Will this individual fit in with the company culture?
At Visium Resources, we know recruiting the right candidate is crucial for a business, not just in monetary terms but for the cultivation and continuation of a company’s culture. It’s important to get it right. By considering the whole picture and understanding the fundamental workings of the organization at hand, we have consistently been able to find our client’s high-potential employees who will create value at the company for years to come.