Transformational Talent – Who Are They And Why Do We Care?

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Jun 27, 2016
This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.

Just like you, I have seen a lot of unique situations as a recruiter. In fact, we live the ultimate reality TV show daily. Sometimes the content is good> great, other times it lacks a lot to be desired. One possible reason for this on again – off again content battle is due to the fact that we start our work with two pieces of paper – the job description and resume. Both of these documents are merely artifacts that represent historical activity experienced by the hiring manager or candidate.

This is where the “rub” starts. Today’s job descriptions do not effectively convey the role that the candidate is expected to execute. I am not going to spend a lot of time here, but you know what I am talking about, the STATIC document that reads like an instruction manual for “How to Ride a Bicycle.” I throw these documents out and make sure that I have a meaningful discussion with the hiring manager.

Then, take it a step further and talk to the team members that this candidate will be in relationship/working with on a daily basis (if you truly want to be a consultant in this business, you need to review the Talent Advisor training program designed by Rob McIntosh). You see, most of my colleagues stop at one of two places – (1) the job description they are handed or (2) they have a short conversation with a hiring manager that just regurgitates the same old instruction manual. Ineffective is not even close to describing these two places. So, why take it a step further and talk to the team members that this person will be in a relationship on a daily basis? Because high-performing teams have an inordinate share of what is known as – Transformational Talent.

Let’s look at three points we need to keep in mind when sourcing Transformational Talent:


Chances are that your success in finding this talent is being slowed due to unconscious bias. Here is a quick definition by Sandy Sparks at The University of Warwick. Unconscious bias refers to a bias that we are unaware of, and which happens outside of our control. It is a bias that happens automatically and is triggered by our brain making quick judgments and assessments of people and situations, influenced by our background, cultural environment, and personal experiences.

What do I mean? You have allowed yourself to fall into habits that keep you from identifying this type of talent due to quick judgments based on a historical artifact called the resume and your perception as you scan a resume.

How do we overcome unconscious bias? First, start by diligently focusing on the person and the relationship structure of their past work teams. Stop looking at job tenure, take a few extra minutes and understand why their job tenure looks different. If could be due to the next point.


Regina Hartley, VP HR – UPS, recently conducted a TED Talk ( in which she laid out a compelling discussion about Silver Spoons vs. Scrappers. Regina’s observations drive to the fact that the best person may not have the perfect resume. What Scrappers have developed is a sense of how to quickly build relationships in order to contribute to a high-performing team.

Engagement occurs when talent is inspired by a mission or vision of solving problems in today’s business climate. The way to find Transformational Talent is to combine this mission with a team dynamic driven by relationship. So, look beyond the words on paper and seek to understand the candidate’s passion. Then connect that passion with the team mission. This will lead to an environment that fuels the next point.


Talent of this type is naturally curious. They love to learn and are constantly seeking solutions to the challenges they are facing. In many cases, this leads to risk-taking and risk-taking will lead to failure along the way. Transformational Talent is not fazed by failure, in fact, they embrace it. To this group, if they are failing then they are pushing the boundaries.

Think of them as space travelers, those who boldly go where no man or woman has gone before….

This group is very comfortable talking about failure, in their mind, this is just a natural part of their evolution that delivers high performance.

Paul D’Arcy, SVP of Marketing, Indeed, summed up the search for Transformational Talent in the following 5 steps:

  1. They have options – you must Inspire them
  2. Make it easy for top talent to find your jobs
  3. Keep your apply process simple – online application process must be 13 minutes or less
  4. Create a great top talent experience
  5. Look for the markers of top talent that fit your company
  6. Give job offers that matter

Paul Wolfe, SVP of HR, Indeed brings everything full circle, take the five steps and consider the following – throw away the “How to Ride a Bicycle” manual; throw away the resume and get to the heart of what drives transformation and innovation.

Wolfe’s focus is to build an innovative team that delivers high performance in the midst of exponential growth. Wolfe himself is transformational in his thinking and if he has it his way, the job description and resume will become things of the past, and very soon.

Here is how a few marque brands view this type of talent; Bain and Company – research shows a 4X increase in productivity; GE – 10X; Apple – 25X; Google – 300X (yes, 300X, that is not a typo – but it explains their laser focus for Transformational Talent). Not everyone will achieve 300X performance increase, but Transformational Talent has the ability to raise the level of performance across the company. Take a few extra minutes when accessing a candidate’s profile. Don’t rush to judgment, but seek to understand passion. Your hiring managers will see you as a true talent advisor.


This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.
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