Don't hire the resumé

We are well into our 2019 planning and have a heap of work on to keep us busy which is alway a good thing.

I was interviewed by digital agency, and a great group of legends at Digital Noir which was fun — you can listen to the interview here.

This week at work, we received a slew of applications for part-time and freelance design positions we were looking to fill over December - February and it got us chatting about how we hire and what we look for.

So, today I thought I'd share some of the top level thoughts and principles behind how we hire and what we look for.

Firstly, in our business, we are all part-timers and have no plans of hiring a full-time position any time in the near, or near-distant future. It's simply part of our strategy and the type of business we wish to run.

Side note: To be frank with you, we're all more productive when we work less days in the week anyway.

When we look for someone to join our team, be it in a part-time or collaborative partner position (explained here) we have a particular set of principles that guide and help us find the right person for the right reasons. We make it our business to find someone who is interestingly different to us — we're not looking for the status quo.

As we've been around for a little while, we constantly have a stream of applications working their way into our business through our new employee pipeline, most lay dormant for a while, whilst those we find interesting and with potential, we mark for future follow up for when the need arises. We try to response to every single application for work that comes our way.

We don't look at CVs and in any part of the application process which starts on the people page of our website, you won't find an option to upload a PDF resume or portfolio. Put simply, you can't land a job in our business because of your CV — I don't care what rare typeface you use.

Let's face it — all CVs are fluffed up to look good, and many a Designer has exaggerated their role in a project in their folio to sound far more integral to the success of the project than they really were.

We're not interested in the school applicants went to, or if they went to school at all. We're not interested in how long they've been in the industry — we're simply looking for someone we all actually want to do good work with and spend time with during the working week.

Key words: "do good work with" and "spend time with..."

We're not interested in where they've worked — the surest way to lose my interest particularly (my team are far more patient and I am) is to reel off a list of agency/studio/consultancy names. This to me, is very uninteresting and uninspiring.

We have a 'no dickheads' rule — we're essentially vetting for good people.

I'm interested in what a potential applicant has done, what they're teaching themselves, what they can teach me and where they're going to be in five years time. I'm inspired by their potential because nurturing untapped potential is wonderful and fulfilling — creating remarkable creative leaders, who are going to rattle the cage is the game I'm in.

We ask for first name and email to kick things off, that's it — we then explain to applicants how we work, why we work in this way and the values of our business.

By this point in time, we have a set of expectations:

  • Applicants that aren't values aligned will give up

  • Those that can't be bothered, won't continue

  • They understand that we're not hiring full time employees and are still interested

  • Those that are values aligned, and still interested in working with us, will click the link to answer our 20-question Q&A

Granted, most people bow out before this Q&A and that's OK with us — because the applicants that receive it, ask us questions about it and ultimately fill it in, are the ones that we know, care enough to learn more about us, and consider working with us.

The Q&A doesn't ask them where they've worked, but rather:

  • What their favourite movie is, and why

  • How they like to work

  • What their ideal day looks like

  • What they're good at, and what they suck at

  • What their side hustle is and what they're teaching themselves

The list goes on.

I'm interested in what people believe in. What drives them. What motivates them.

I'm less interested in how passionate they are to learn — I'm more interested in what they're already teaching themselves and what they have to teach me.

I'm not interested in people who are looking for a job — I'm more interested in people who are looking to work for me and the people I work with — whether they'll fit in, and if we'll all get along.

When we're bringing a new person into our team, we're more interested in whether we're going to work together well, if they like the same things we like and if they're going to seek out the same, complex challenges we like to work on.

And, we don't do internships and we'll never give anyone a 'task to execute' as a trial — we trial people yes, which means we give them real work for real pay for a time-boxed period of time. If it doesn't work out, it doesn't work out. if it does, we both know what to expect and we've both exchanged fair value.

We aim to focus on the person and their work — not an imaginary person that lives in our fantasy — and we lay it all out on the table with applicants so their own imagination is kept in check as well. It's only fair.

We're looking for people who share our values and also, know who we are well enough to know that we're not interested in hiring clones of us — we don't need to clone ourselves or our skills, but rather we're looking for people who can compliment our skill set, teach us something new, expand our world view and push a little, into uncomfortable places.

Finding good people isn't easy — I'm not sure who said that, but I agree.

What I do know, is that the people who do come knocking are very much a reflection of the value our business is putting out into the world — and if my team and the quality of people who came knocking this week are anything to go by, I'm doing an OK job of this.