Hire 4 Performance Series: The Briefcase

January 25, 2023

Ashley Meyer

Ashley Meyer

Welcome to Part 3 of our Hire 4 Performance Series. We’ve covered the Head and the Heart, and now it’s time to open the Briefcase. 

Indulge us for a moment, if you will.

Reading a resume

Imagine that person X has a Toyota/Honda or some other universally dependable brand of car, has been driving for over fifteen years, and has a working knowledge of the destination they’re headed, along with a few shortcuts along the way. Oh, and this person claims they have the best road trip playlist. 

When they turn up, you realize it’s actually a 2001 model with torn seats and a broken AC. The driver has intolerable road rage and doesn’t know how to use a turn signal. They’ve been to the location you are going to but also have innumerable parking and speeding tickets in that city. Their playlist is made up entirely of Taylor Swift and Britney remixes but in an Electro-Polka style (taste is subjective, right?). 

  • But a Toyota/Honda is reliable, right? 
  • 15 years of driving means you’re experienced and have no bad habits, right? 
  • Knowledge of the destination and what you’re hoping to achieve guarantees success, right? 
  • A killer playlist is going to be loved by all, right? 

This is a great example of being WOWED by a resume but then meeting the person and them not being quite what you are expecting. You NEVER hire from a resume; using the Briefcase alone will still get you limited results. 

If the Briefcase is not just a summary of skills, past workplaces, certifications, or time spent in a role, what exactly is it? 

The Briefcase  

  • Professional Choices  
  • Resume  

This is where the skills, experience, achievement patterns, and growth-minded choices align. Can the candidate do the job? Anyone can learn a role, but do they have the necessary skills to hit the ground running and make an impact from day one?  

The Briefcase is a combination of the where, what, and when unpacked through the how and why. It speaks to the alignment with the Heart and the Head, the consistency between the three, and then holds that in tension with choice and achievement. In Part 1, we explored the Head, and in Part 2 we explored the Heart. Now in Part 3, we are going to wrap it all together by looking at the Briefcase and dispelling some myths, shedding some light on metrics that look impressive but tell us little, and sharing some of our secrets that form the basis of the questions that will get you valuable and definitive information to make a successful hire. 

Before we do that, here’s a quick reminder of the Head and the Heart. 

The Head

  • Behavioral Traits  
  • Cognitive Reasoning  

The Head portion is where we engage the Predictive Index, an assessment tool that helps us understand the way a candidate thinks, reacts/responds, and their predicted ramp-up time into the role. By understanding how a candidate communicates, thinks, and acts (their behavioral traits), we can use that to provide a comparison to the benchmark set for the role. The benchmark is defined when creating the Performance Profile and takes data directly from team members who the candidate will either work alongside or report to. We can help gain an understanding of how the candidates’ communication style and behavioral approach will resonate with the team to highlight any potential blind spots, areas of conflict that may arise, and any areas where the candidate will synergize with their approach.  

In short, is this an area the candidate will thrive in, or will it shut them down? There is no pass-fail, simply insight.    

The Heart

  • Core Values  
  • Interests and Beliefs  

What is a candidates why? What is fueling the choices they make, what drives and motivates them, and how does that align with your organization? Will the seat you are looking to fill and the values and vision of your organization appeal to the candidates? If the answer is yes, then you can predict that the candidate will resonate so deeply with your vision it will marry up with their own and you find yourself with someone who will invest in you and your company and will push through the inevitable difficulties that everyone has. They will also be more likely to be receptive to the investment you are making in them. It is a partnership, and a true partnership is powerful.

If you want to know who is showing up to work then you need to take a 360-degree view of the candidate, to look beyond the resume and find out what lies beneath.  

Alignment, Achievement, Action, Attitude, Affectation  

When kicking off a search for a new role, there are several items we focus on to ensure we are looking for the right components to find alignment with the Partner, and to ascertain what an aligned candidate looks like. These include but are not limited to: 

  • What is the role? 
  • How did the need for the role arise? 
  • Must Haves: what does this candidate absolutely have to possess for them to meet the needs of the team from a skills, experience, and toolset perspective 
  • Nice to Haves: These are not essential, but they would be of huge benefit if the candidate had X 
  • Who will they report to 
  • What does success look like in the role (Performance Profile) 
  • Employee Value Proposition – why would they join your team 
  • Growth trajectory 
  • Compensation 

From this list, we’ll create a profile of the perfect candidate, and then the search is on. LinkedIn profiles and resumes help us gain an idea of the WHAT and WHERE of a candidate, but other than to serve as the springboard to a series of essential questions, these candidate snapshots will not give us a strong or reliable indicator of success. 

In our blog, Resumes Don’t Show Up to Work we unpack this further. 

Their professional experience and achievements are only a third of the puzzle when it comes to seeing the candidate and predicting their performance in YOUR organization.  

Take a step back for a moment. What does a resume tell you, or more accurately, what does a resume GIVE you?  

A resume tells you:  

  • Where a candidate has been (past jobs and school)  
  • How long they have been there  
  • What they have done  
  • A list of skills  
  • Potentially a short paragraph that reframes the job description into a task-oriented justification for their candidacy

What a resume doesn’t do is:  

  • Tell you what they ACHIEVED  
  • Give insight into where they are GOING (not just where they’ve been)  
  • An indication of how they perform  
  • Their values and motivators  
  • Communication style  
  • Character  

Education is Not a Predictor of Success 

According to The Validity and Utility of Selection Methods in Personnel Psychology: Practical and Theoretical Implications of 100 Years of Research Findings, education has almost no correlation with job performance. In fact, education provides only 1% predictive ability

Whether a resume says Yale or a Community College, the school a candidate attended tells us little about how they will perform on the job. This is not to suggest that skills are not acquired, or specific knowledge is not attained from an education. They are. – Predictive Index – How Good is Education at Predicting Job Performance  

Time Spent in a Role is Not a Predictor of Success 

What does a resume that shows that a candidate has been with company X for three years tell you? The answer, is they have been with company X for three years… that’s it!  

  • They’ve been there for three years; they must be a high performer, right? Maybe. How do you prove it? 
  • They must be loyal. Maybe, perhaps they’re just comfortable.  
  • They must have a great relationship with their manager, right? Perhaps 

The resumes that excite us are the ones that highlight ACHIEVEMENT. We don’t want to know what you did we want to know what you ACHIEVED

One indicator of this (which still needs diving into) is evidence of promotion. Other than that you can look at their history and determine how they have grown in their career; everyone has a story. Not all job hoppers are opportunists with itchy feet. Not all tenured employees are high performers.  

Using the Briefcase Effectively 

To sum it up in one sentence: look for examples of achievement. 

  • What did they achieve? 
  • How did they achieve it? 
  • What obstacles did they face and how did they overcome them? 
  • Who did they work with? 
  • Who presented a challenge to their achievement? 
  • Why was it meaningful to them? 
  • What was the impact on the company/team? 
  • What was the impact on them? 
  • What resources would they have needed to do this more effectively? 
  • What did they learn? 
  • What would they do differently? 

Each of these questions in themselves will help sift out those who talk the talk from those who can prove what they achieved. 

Perception vs Performance 

A candidate should be able to speak on a detailed level about what they achieved vs what their team/company achieved. It’s the difference between hearing candidate A say, “my team achieved $ 3 million in sales and blew through our 2022 goals by 27%.” And candidate B said, “I was personally responsible for contributing $700k in revenue to our team in 2022. I may have been 4th on our team in terms of numbers but I did see a 30% increase on last year’s numbers, and as a team, we hit X.” 

Candidate A may have been the lowest performing member of their team, and though the stats look great, the reality is less impressive.  

An Accurate Assessment of Skills 

Depending on the role you are looking to fill, you may need a candidate with a very specific set of skills, skills that make them a nightmare for your competitors. You will find that candidate, and you will hire them… To gain an accurate picture of the level of skills they possess it’s helpful to have the candidate rate themselves on a sliding scale, 1-5, for example. This will help you obtain a clear picture of how the candidate sees themselves, areas for growth, and areas of excellence. 

As you can see, the Briefcase goes way beyond the resume and, when combined with Heart and the Head enables you to get to know the candidate on multiple levels and to accurately predict their potential success on your team. It goes without saying that we are still dealing with people, and people are unpredictable, but with a combination of performative data, insight into belief, value and motivation, behavioral insights, and an accurate assessment of skills and achievement and achievement you are well placed to make a great hire. 


Refreshing perspectives and practical expertise from the Titus team.

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