One of the greatest challenges of every manager is to find the best employee for their team. As a former corporate executive, I’ve seen the challenges. Over the years, I noticed that the best employees were not the ones with the best schools, greatest working experience or excellent skill set. The best employees were the most resilient ones. These individuals were flexible, they could handle stressful situations easier and adapted faster to the unexpected.

The Silver Spoons vs. The Scrappers

I recently watched a great TED talk on this topic by Regina Hartley, human resources executive at UPS. She divides the best candidates into two categories, “the silver spoons” and “the scrappers”.

The silver spoons are the applicants with perfect resumes. They graduate from the elite schools and have decent working experience. They clearly had advantages and were destined for success.

On the other side, “the scrappers” are individuals with less prominent education and background. They overcame a lot of struggles on the way up and their CVs are usually not as impressive as the ones of “the silver spoons.” Their lives were destined for failure but they fought against the odds to get to the same starting line as “the silver spoons”

While most of the HR managers choose to prefer “the silver spoons,” Regina always gives a chance to “the scrappers.” She sees their ultimate advantage towards the other applicants. The scrappers are resilient.

The Post Traumatic Growth

Many successful people and entrepreneurs have a troubling past, they come from dysfunctional families, experienced abandonment, death of parents, poverty, learning disabilities. The scientists discovered an interesting phenomenon called Post Traumatic Growth. A study conducted on 698 children living in extreme conditions revealed that the full one-third of them grew to lead successful and productive lives as adults.

The other study of the most successful entrepreneurs in the world found that a significant number of them suffered from dyslexia. What is impressive, they don’t see this disease as a disadvantage anymore. They see it as a desirable difficulty that gave them a whole set of advantages. For instance, they became better listeners.

Supporting Diversity

Organizations that support diversity in their teams tend to outperform their peers. You might find the best fit your team both among “the silver spoons” and “the scrappers”. Keep your mind open and don’t rely on the best resume. Give the scrapper a chance and invite them for an interview. You might find the right employee after a second look. As Regina says: “Choose the underestimated contender, whose secret weapons are passion and purpose.” I couldn’t agree more.