Why I Rarely Hire The Best Person On Paper

Written by: Claire Rahn

I love a good underdog story. Antiheroes, misfits, the shy girl who catches the eye of the popular boy… I also love to hire underdogs.

Now don’t get me wrong. I have had the privilege to work with incredibly talented colleagues who have each been a critical part of our tech company’s story. With the everchanging landscape of our industry, Butterly (also known as ChickAdvisor) too has had to act the misfit—thinking (widely) outside the box until we find a best-in-class solution.

And so I’ve hired people with backgrounds in biochemistry, gender studies, and opera. Past jobs included realtor, bartender, prison tutor, and freelance blogger. I can relate—I have a degree in Environmental Science. Who’s the misfit now?

While some of my colleagues have also had marketing or tech experience to round out their resumes, it’s the folks who come in with a completely unbiased perspective that find ways to contribute to our company where others have blind spots.

Interestingly, a surprisingly high number of our past and present staff are also entrepreneurs or grew up in an entrepreneurial family. They understand thinking outside the box in a way that others don’t, and that’s what catches my attention.

I have been privileged to mentor a number of high school students and graduates as they are considering the next step in their lives.

“What if I choose the wrong major?” they worry.

“You won’t,” I tell them. Lean in to what you love and figure out how your passion and natural abilities can transfer wherever your career takes you.

For me, the hiring process is approximately 25% job-relevant skills and education, 25% unique background and skill set, and 50% magnetic energy and team chemistry. You have to be able to perform the job, but building the right company culture leads to a productive synergy that pays off in spades.

When you are willing to look at candidates for who they are versus who you think they should be, you might just find some of the most innovative and collaborative colleagues you’ve ever had the privilege to work with. Take it from this Environmental Scientist.

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