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Optimum Talks Blog

Recruiting for Potential: The Value of Story

by Optimum Talent

“Tell us your story”.  As recruiters, this is often our opening interview question. It gives candidates an open forum to walk us through how they’ve progressed throughout their career. Typically, their resume speaks for itself. Many candidates have experience based on sequential positions and have gradually progressed through a traditional career path. However, in a growing number of cases, their resumes don’t follow a traditional path and their experience seems to lack connection. They have perhaps pursued different passions, been designated across different disciplines, or become experts in multiple arenas; however, this is not necessarily a bad thing as more and more we are recognizing the lasting value of these “multipotentialites”.

What is a Multipotentialite?

In her TEDTalk “Why some of us don’t have one true calling“, Emily Wapnick introduced us to this concept. Multipotentialites are the opposite of traditional specialists; they do many things. They are constantly evolving their response to the question “what do you want to be when you grow up?” They are multidisciplinary, curious and often bring a breadth of very valuable experience to the table. In fact, they have what Wapnick describes as three ‘superpowers’:

  • Idea synthesis: It is at the intersection of different areas and expertise that true innovation is born. Multipotentialites, given their varying expertise, generate ideas and innovation more frequently.
  • Rapid learning: Multipotentialites are well versed at starting something new. They are comfortable getting uncomfortable and learn quickly.
  • Adaptability: Well versed in change, multipotentialites acclimatize quickly. Wapnick comments, “Fast Company identified adaptability as the single most important skill to develop in the twenty first century”.

Recruiting & Multipotentialites

One of the greatest attributes a recruiter can have is that of curiosity – a sense of why and how.  A good recruiter wants to understand the reason behind someone’s career moves.  A great recruiter will want to try and understand why someone made the career moves they did and what the intended outcome was.  They want to understand the overarching theme of someone’s experience, not just the tactical responsibilities they held over the course of the tenure. Furthermore, a fantastic recruiter will find it exciting and energizing to review someone’s work history and pull together common themes.  We understand that, most often, these common themes are directly linked to the skills required to lead in today’s business world.

So, how does the recruiter differentiate between a multipotentialite and someone that has commitment issues?  It comes back to the genuine interest and curiosity in getting to know someone at an individual level.  That is why, at Optimum Talent, we review resumes with a holistic approach to ensure we aren’t overlooking an exceptional multipotentialite within the group.  Whenever possible, we connect with applicants in person or over the telephone to understand their story – what sets them apart, what makes them unique.  It is not a fast, volume driven approach to the process, but rather a thoughtful and engaging process focused on ensuring that we have the most meaningful understanding of the candidate pool possible.  This approach ensures that we always find the best match possible, for both the candidate and our client – and that the best match isn’t always the most obvious.

– Optimum Talent