The discovery-driven approach to a career yields a resume that is unconventional and might be overlooked by HR personnel accustomed to looking for specific, albeit limited, markers of accomplishment and capacity, such as years of higher education or experience in consistent roles. But discovery-driven candidates have backgrounds that don’t always fall in line with a typical linear career path. These are dedicated individuals who pursue passion instead of a title, adapt quickly when things don’t go as planned and make the most out of opportunities, all of which makes
them particularly appealing hires, when they’re given the chance.
One example of a discovery-driven success story is Maureen Chiquet, a guest on my Disrupt Yourself podcast last year. Today, Chiquet is an accomplished businesswoman having spent almost a decade as the CEO of Chanel and author of Beyond the Label: Women, Leadership and Success on Our Own Terms. But to get to where she is today, Chiquet has taken an unconventional career path.
Her remarkable career illustrates why HR professionals should stop looking only for traditional markers of a good candidate and instead expand their search to discovery-driven individuals who may in fact be the best candidates for the job. Here are three ways to identify discovery-driven people when they walk through your door, and give them the chance they deserve.
1. Look beyond credentials
HR professionals should be open-minded about unusual degrees, different educational institutions and even the absence of higher education altogether. When hiring the right person for the job, focus on the skills they’ll need for the role you’re looking to fill, and determine whether these skills are present.
For example, you don’t need a degree in communications for a marketing position. Chiquet studied film and theater in college, which didn’t translate directly to the roles she was interested in pursuing. But her theater degree did mean that she was not only passionate, but also a talented storyteller, so she used these skills to eventually launch her career in marketing.
By recognizing that university degrees and disciplines don’t predict what a job applicant may be able to contribute, you can focus on finding candidates with the skills needed to be successful, even if they don’t have the credentials. Chances are, these are people that are nimble, jacks-of-all-trades that are willing to tackle anything you throw at them.
2. Embrace adaptability
Creativity and innovation are two sides of the same coin, and they manifest themselves in a variety of non-conventional ways. Chiquet’s theater degree was intended to be a preamble to law school, but six questions into the LSAT, she realized law school was not for her. Since there was no plan B, Chiquet headed for France (a country she loved since she was a kid) and landed a job in the marketing department at L’Oreal.
Her bold move and and success proved Chiquet could make the most of an unpredictable situation — a quality HR teams would be lucky to find when interviewing candidates. Recruiters should watch for resume indicators that a candidate is flexible, imaginative and willing to adventure, as those are candidates who are more likely to stick with a company during times of change or turbulence.
3. Look for ‘magnifiers’
Small jobs can be magnified into large opportunities. Always be on the watch for magnifiers — candidates who are not too proud to tackle “small” tasks, but are also proactive, creative and willing to take measured risks. When Chiquet returned to the U.S. from France, she wanted to work in marketing at Gap, but with no retail experience, the best she could do was land a job in their merchandizing department organizing the sample closet.
Her next role wasn’t much bigger than her first, but she found ways to make the most of it. “I was in the accessories department and my role was assistant merchandiser of socks and belts. But, I found ways within that opportunity to stake a claim and make a name for myself,” says Chiquet.
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Don’t discount candidates that haven’t held the most impressive titles. Instead look for signs that candidates have made the most of the responsibilities they’ve had, and used them as opportunities to learn and grow—it’s a marker of a devoted and determined hard worker.
Chiquet has had a long, winding career. After leaving Gap, she had a stint at Old Navy, bounced back to Gap as president of subsidiary Banana Republic, and joined Chanel to begin her ascent to the peak position in the C-suite. Today, post-Chanel, Chiquet is an author, speaker and consultant. She is also proof that discovery-driven candidates have just as much, if not more, to offer than those who follow traditional career paths.
Don’t limit your companies success by limiting the candidates you consider for open positions.
This article originally appeared on ReWork, a publication exploring the future of work.