We recently caught an article by Software Advice, a company that connects businesses with software vendors, that highlights the hiring strategy they call “finding diamonds in the rough.” This strategy places more weight on natural talent than past experience. Their company has no problem hiring bartenders, servers or baristas -- if they have the “it” factor. To learn more about Software Advice’s unconventional hiring strategy and how they identify the “it” factor in their candidates, I decided to catch up with their HR manager, Bethany Perkins. In fact, Bethany herself went from pouring shots to calling them.
Do you think being a former “diamond in the rough” has helped you find candidates that other HR Managers might have skipped over?
Very much so. Before I joined the Software Advice team, I was working as a bartender and running my own theatre company. Two jobs that weren’t keeping the lights on. These two jobs had me working at all times of the night, and eventually the schedule became too hard to manage. It was finally time to find a real job -- a career.
Since my background was in the service-industry, I know first-hand what types of skills and personalities are needed to be successful in that field. I understand that working in a bar or restaurant is a real job and comes with plenty of challenges. Just like any industry, there are some people who are really good or really bad at their job. Great bartenders and servers generally have a drive to be successful, this motivation usually transfers to other areas of their life. Often times, these candidates just don’t know how to leverage their experience into a career at a professional company. As a former “diamond in the rough,” I understand their situation, and look beyond the resume. Here are Software Advice, we evaluate how competitive, motivated, and optimistic our candidates are, and focus less on their relevant experience. I look for candidates with natural talents -- the types you can’t teach.
How do you find a “diamond in the rough?”
Searching for a “diamond in the rough,” is a lot of work. I have trained myself to look beyond the resume and read between the lines. I focus less on what company they are working for and instead look for signals of achievement. During my search, I look for candidates who understand that success is a product of hard work. People that embrace challenges and competition, instead of running from them. I also look for candidates that take pride in their history, whether they are talking about their job as a bartender or barista. If they value a job well done, it peaks my interest.
Our hiring process is rigorous. When I think I have found a “diamond,” I pick up the phone and try to confirm my hunch. If they are positive, optimistic, motivated, and hungry to prove themselves, they often make it to the second round - a meeting with our hiring managers. Our hiring managers dig deeper into the candidate’s potential. If they pass the second round, they must also meet with either our CEO or COO as a last safety check. Each group must agree that the candidate has the “it” factor, or we keep digging.
What is the “it” factor?
The “it” factor is a combination of natural talents that go beyond past experience. These are talents that can’t be taught. Did they have a history of hard work and achievement? Have they demonstrated passion in some area of their life? Are they optimistic and have a positive attitude? Did they show advancement or progression in past roles? How candidates respond to these questions goes a long way in helping us identify the “it” factor. Because personality traits and natural talents are something we can’t teach.
What lessons have you learned from looking for “diamonds?
While looking for “diamonds in the rough” I’ve learned that there is great talent everywhere -- you just have to know where to look for it. If you can look past a candidate’s past experience and instead zero in on their “it” factor, you will be surprised at what kind of awesome hires you can find for your company. Just taking a look around our office, it is amazing to see former baristas, bartenders and servers that contribute daily to the success of our company.
Bethany Perkins is the Manager of Recruiting and Human Resources at Software Advice. She's been with the company since 2011 and in that time has helped to double the size of the company and hire almost 50 new employees. In addition to recruiting, she's also the resident IT gal, party planner, and finder of lost things. She graduated from Long Island University with a BFA in Theatre Production and Design and is active in the Austin theatre community. And as a former bartender, it is her secret life mission to make you love gin.