Mad skills and atypical profiles: thinking out of the box

Mad skills and atypical profiles: thinking out of the box

When it comes to choosing a candidate, most HR managers have a first look at the basics: does the applicant have an actual degree? Is it backed up by a professional experience? Any decent track record, any reference? Are there any side abilities that could help him to get along well with the team? Those questions deal with 2 aspects:

  • Hard skills: the job core abilities for getting the job done
  • Soft skills: the personal qualities helping the candidate to use his hard skills in the best possible way

But in a fast-paced world, finding the best human assets as an ingredient for creating corporate competitive advantages is pretty hard. Job requirements need to be defined with deeper insights, at a brand new level of expertise and anticipation. Growth hacking concept, for example, is an answer to those new needs. But this idea unveils another question: how to figure out which profiles could come handy in growth hacking initiatives? The answer is: mad skills.

Mad skills for wise managers

The point is: managers need to find out whether a candidate has side abilities that could be useful for dealing with a wide range of problems that cannot be accurately anticipated.

How to recognize mad skills?

Here are a few examples to get the big picture: An applicant who is capable to perform a rote memorization of 15 monosyllabic items does have a mad skill.

  • Juggling
  • Hacky sack
  • Spinning a basketball
  • Crafting origamis

…are all seemingly odd abilities that can be considered as mad skills.

The key point is not the achievement the applicant has reached by juggling with 3 balls for one hour or crafting a very difficult origami in no time. The key point is the skills he has acquired to be able to get that done. Patience and stamina are required for spinning a ball for so long. A very specific spatial intelligence and fingers agility are needed for crafting origamis.

But how to use those qualities?

Oneself problem solving abilities are nurtured by past experiences. Being able to communicate to the team a complicated solution for overcoming a crisis with a quite simple explanation, by using an origami paper folding process as a comparison, for example, is a mad skill you want your team members to have. You will want that because that very sharp analysis of a situation leading to a very short explanation will save you time and, therefore, money. Growth hacking solutions have been proposed in a startup environment trying to get a massive growth with small budgets. Coined by Sean Ellis, the term ‘growth hacker’ was proposed to describe as accurately as possible the abilities the founder of Qualaroo was looking for in a tech profile to meet a job requirements.

How to identify and make the most of mad skills: a 101 introduction

If the growth hacking concept was created in the IT industry, that is no coincidence. Creating workshops, interview tests and exams putting candidates into unusual situations happened to be handy for recruiters in tech companies. They are inspiring more organizations. Financial corporations and law firms are no different.

To identify interesting profiles and make the most out of them, recruiters need to define a talent management strategy, and then determine policies. Now the question is: how should that be done in the case of sensitive topics that law and finance companies have to deal with? Adaptive project management tools are the first step of a company transformation towards the optimization of its team potential. With the rise of Big Data, it has never been that easy to gather, blend and analyze a huge amount of information to get meaningful insights in a short time. Holistic software solutions such as Workday can provide this kind of features.

Fintech and e-commerce law: when mad skills lead to innovation and disruption

The yet to be regulated ecommerce, requiring a legal framework at global scale, and the fintech are two of the most interesting applications for candidates with a very atypical profile. As a very technical knowledge is required in the case of fintech (including notions or even an expertise of several programming languages such as C++, C# or even statistics and data manipulation languages like Python or R), the hard skills challenge at the entrance most of the candidates. A good example of such an atypical profile is the mind behind the Etherum cryptocurrency stealing bot that Elon Musk has recently pointed out in a Twitter post. The hacker is yet to be found.

Creativity at work: this is what companies need to find nowadays with an appropriate mad skills management framework.