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Who to Hire: Scrappers or Silver Spoons?


News Flash!  News Flash! It’s a cruel world. That’s one perspective. I’m not going to argue that we live in difficult times. People have painful professional and personal lives.  There are a great number of struggles happening in terms of keeping pace with change, education, finding jobs.  We’ve seen salaries remain stagnant for long periods of time, reducing the size of middle class. 

There are also other phrases. “It’s a cruel world that we live in.” “Don’t stop believing.” I think those two quotes reflect the different belief systems around challenges and even, at times, trauma.  We’ve all heard about post-traumatic stress disorder. The difficulty people have returning back to normal lives after experiencing a significant drama such as war.

What we have failed to hear about is post-traumatic growth. Post-traumatic growth is a positive psychological change that one experiences because of adversity or some other type of challenge. This positive psychological change refers to a higher level of functioning.  In many cases, when people are faced with similar kinds of stress the reaction is muted and they recover faster.

Many people who have gone through post-traumatic growth experiences can relate better to other people.  They have stronger, more intimate relationships with those around them.  They see the possibilities for growth professionally in their lives.  They have the ability to muster more personal strength than those around them.  They have a greater appreciation for life and a deepening sense of connection and spirituality.

Why is this relevant to the work environment?  People who have gone through post dramatic growth experiences are more than likely the people who switch jobs or are job hoppers.  They may have taken time off to travel the world for a year, but when they are looking for a new job companies typically disregard them and do not consider these types of individuals serious candidates.  These ‘scrappers’ are individuals who have re-found themselves and become extremely resilient. In many cases, they can be a great hire and exactly what your organization needs. Silver spoons, on the other hand, have grown up with a comfortable life, were never really challenged or experienced diversity. There is nothing wrong with a silver spoon, however, scrappers tend to outperform and outthink silver spoons when facing change and adversity at work.

Life is full of irony.  While we all want a life free of trauma that goes along a smooth road, we can’t imagine anyone choosing a difficult life full of hardship rather than harmony.  When people struggle and turn the corner, they can come to a very positive place where they excel. 

When you hire, do you look for people who have overcome diversity and have learned from challenging experiences in life?  Are you open to hiring the scrappers or are you looking for the silver spoons?  What kind of balance does that create in your workplace and are you ready for the rocky road that’s ahead in business?

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