It’s hard to hire the right people. One of the mistakes many leaders make is to hire on job titles. It’s easy to look at a résumé and see great titles and great company names and think, “Oh, this is the person for me. This one will be great!” But if you’re not looking at that résumé for signs of proactive behaviors, chances are good you will get an employee who has few skills in that area.
So, how do you find signs of proactive behavior on a résumé? I like to look at a résumé from the bottom—starting with the very first job. What did this person do to get started? Is it a “dirty” job? One that required hard work and perseverance? It’s one thing to start out your career as an intern in an investment bank. It’s another to mow golf course lawns. Or start your own in-home ironing service. Or work on commission for a telemarketer. Look for evidence on the résumé that this individual knows how to knuckle down and make a tough situation profitable.
Another place to look for proactive behavior is in the references. Don’t treat reference checks as an afterthought. And don’t assume you won’t get the “straight story” from a reference. If you ask the right questions, you learn what you need. One of my favorite questions to ask is this: “When a great person leaves a company, it leaves a hole to fill. What hole will this person leave in your company?” A bland or hesitant answer may indicate to you that this individual is not dynamic and is not making an impact now. That’s an indication the individual lacks experience being proactive.
from Jennifer Prosek, “Creating the Owner’s Mindset“