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5 Qualifications Of An Employee Who Will Actually Work

Stock Photo of a manager shaking hands with a new hire.

You want your organization to be successful. If you didn’t, you wouldn’t be spending time reading blogs about improving your industry. Y’know, like this blog. (Please keep reading this blog.)

But amid the mental hailstorm of technical improvements and outside competition and everything else that bombards you every time you try to level up your organization, it’s easy to forget the simplest thing. The thing that can guarantee or limit your success in the future, because it’s the thing making you as successful (or not) as you are now.

The thing is: people. 

How did that one person in your office who’s not pulling their own weight get their job? Probably a spot open and a ticking clock to getting it filled. But even if you’re under a time crunch, you have time to consider these five things.



1. Experience

This one’s first so we can get it out of the way. Because this is the one everybody looks for. Has your candidate got a lot of experience in the field? Yes. Great. Hired.

But maybe you should be looking for experience that could be helpful that’s slightly out of the ordinary. We’re certainly biased, but we think experience in the supply chain is highly valuable for positions at every level. If nothing else it speaks to a mind keyed to logistics and fine detail.

Land O Lakes certainly thought that experience was valuable when they recently promoted Beth Ford to CEO. And it just so happens that Tim Cook rose to the top of Apple due to his supply chain experience, and a longtime supply chain pro is currently the richest man in the world.


2. Background

We’re not talking background in your field. We just covered that. And we’re not talking cultural background, either. (Because we cover that below.) Background refers very specifically to background checks.

As we discovered when we talked about cybersecurity, the majority of data breaches are caused by internal factors. Sometimes it’s someone walking away with a laptop. Hopefully a criminal background check reveals a pattern of that kind of behavior in the past. But plenty of data breaches are the result of human error. Carelessness. Have you looked into your candidate’s work history to find patterns of that?

You probably think your CEO doesn’t need one. You’re wrong. Every person should be vetted before taking a position with your organization. After sharing anecdotes in the office of a doctor who started a practice after their disbarment elapsed, we immediately read news of someone barred from working in healthcare doing exactly that anyway.


3. Diversity

This is a touchy subject. Mostly among straight, white, cisgender men. The argument against something like Affirmative Action or “equal opportunity employment” is that hiring managers should be able to hire the most qualified person for the job. And of course that’s true. But what if the person who will best fit the position doesn’t even get the chance to interview?

Some years ago a study revealed that a resume with a more white-sounding name was 33% more likely to get an interview than that same resume bearing a name that sounded like it belonged to a black candidate. Now, for your comfort and ours, let’s assume you don’t have any conscious biases against any race. But what unconscious biases about what makes an ideal employee (gender, nationality, age, handicap, etc., etc.) might affect your hiring decisions?

The NFL has in place the Rooney Rule, wherein at least one minority candidate has to be interviewed for every high-level coaching position. Surely you care more about having and keeping good employees than the NFL does


4. Flexibility

If you want employees who can do only one task well and consistently, skip this piece of advice. But if you want people to work for and beside you who can cover a wide variety of tasks, hire someone with a wide range of skills. As we said above, it’ll only benefit you to hire someone who has skills outside the exact requirements of the position.

You might already be familiar with The Peter Principle, the idea that someone will be promoted to their “level of incompetence,” continually getting a new job based on past job performance until they get a job they’re totally unqualified for. If you only judge a candidate on what they’ve done, you’re not looking at what they can do.

Which leads perfectly into our final point…


5. Enthusiasm

Supply chain experience for a supply chain position is valuable. Enthusiasm is more valuable.

What you want out of an employee isn’t someone who knows how to do everything; it’s someone who’s willing to try anything. Take every other piece of qualification (experience, background, and everything else above) for what it’s worth, but you can’t overvalue a candidate’s willingness to get the job done.

If you’re interviewing, by way of a totally random example, a candidate who’s done a lot of writing but never the kind of technical writing your website needs, who says, “I can knock out an in-depth how-to blog anytime you want,” that’s a person worth hiring.

5 qualifications employeeClick to tweet.


If you don’t care about who you’re hiring, you’ll hire people who don’t care. Or, even worse, they’ll start out caring, then follow your example and let their effort trickle to the bare minimum.

You know what happens when the boss is out for a day. Everyone relaxes, putting off that project till there’s someone asking for it. You want to hire someone who’ll be the boss when you’re out of the room. You want someone who’s hungry enough to learn your job so they can take it from you.

And if that scares you, maybe it should. Maybe it’ll make you work harder. Maybe you’ll keep reading industry blogs and keep improving yourself to stay ahead.

Maybe you’re welcome.


Headline photo via Depositphotos.

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