Social enterprise is booming.
In Britain alone there are currently more than 60,000 businesses working to tackle social problems, improve communities, and bring about environmental change.
According to Government data they employ around one million people and contribute £20bn to the UK economy.
And the success of many of these pioneering companies can be attributed to an exceptional workforce – committed employees who are motivated to help society and who seek meaning and purpose in their work.
As a result, US social entrepreneur and leadership expert Alex Budak says that recruiting for social organisations requires a more unconventional approach than those typically used by commercial businesses and private corporations.
Alex is the founder of The Changemaker Toolkit, an online resource for social entrepreneurs.
He also co-founded crowdfunding website StartSomeGood.com, which has supported the launch of over 600 social ventures and has raised over £3 million for social change projects.
Alex explains that for him, finding the perfect employee often means disregarding an applicant’s CV for anything other than basic qualification checks. He describes a conventional curriculum vitae as “a backwards-looking analysis”.
Instead, Alex claims that what actually matters when he is considering investing in an entrepreneur is the “why” and the “how”.
He says he is more likely to read a cover letter to try and identity six key traits that determine why an individual does what they do, and how they approach new opportunities or challenges.
The traits he looks for are empathy, purpose, resilience, creative problem solving, entrepreneurial spirit and fun and humour.
“Much more interesting to me than what someone has done before, is what someone will be able to do going forward,” Alex told Salt magazine.
“Especially in a fast-paced environment, it’s impossible to forecast the specific tasks and challenges that lie ahead. Instead, it’s crucial that someone is imaginative and innovative in synthesising disparate pieces of information, seeing patterns and overcoming challenges.”
He explains that empathy shouldn’t be seen as a sign of weakness in business, but rather it should be understood as the “building block of leadership”.
“With complex organisations, time pressures and limited resources, it’s impossible to make every decision yourself. Therefore it’s imperative to create a team of people who have the agency and self-starting spirit to take responsibility, run with it, and make things happen. One need not be an entrepreneur in the Steve Jobs sense; rather they must be ready to hustle, be creative and not bound by processes.”
He added that resilience is a key requirement to overcome the setbacks that will inevitably be encountered by growing enterprises.
“It may be scary to leave the tradition of resumes and C.V.s behind,” says Alex. “But once you do — and instead focus on these six characteristics — you’ll start hiring the right type of people. And more importantly your team won’t just look good on paper —it will be great in real life.”
To learn more about Alex Budak and The Changemaker Toolkit, visit: http://changemaker.us