(Note: if you don’t like the trends described below companies are now using to rank order resumes of candidates who apply, you’ll need to hack-a-job by entering through the back door.)

(Note: if you don’t like the trends described below companies are now using to rank order resumes of candidates who apply, you’ll need to hack-a-job by entering through the back door.)

Are you aware that if you have a Facebook page, LinkedIn profile, applied to some job on some job board, wrote a blog post or commented on one, or tweeted something, some cloud-based piece of software is now looking at your online presence and determining your current and future hirability? Given this Minority Report-like approach to data gathering, it’s important to know what Big Brother is looking for if you’re now looking to change jobs or expect to do so sometime in the future.

For me, predicting candidate success started many years ago. During my first few years as an independent recruiter I arranged about 20 different candidate interviews per month for a variety of different jobs. After just a few years the differences between who got hired and who didn’t became very clear. By only presenting candidates who met the “high probability of being hired” criteria, I could reduce the number of candidates I needed to present to about 12-15 monthly, and still make as many placements. Even better, once hired, these people had lower turnover, were more fully engaged and tended to get promoted faster. This commonsense idea is now known as predictive analytics. Although the concept has been around for ages, big data capability now makes it the current “big thing” in corporate America for hiring at scale.

Early on, I called this “high probability of being hired” criteria the Achiever Pattern and described how to identify it in The Essential Guide for Hiring & Getting Hired. Some of the most obvious factors are described below. For job seekers with the Achiever Pattern, it’s important to make sure it jumps out of your LinkedIn profile. If you’re a job seeker without it now or have some non-traditional version of it, you’ll need to hack-a-job using some of these 15 ideas to find one in the hidden job market. Then make sure you use the situation as an opportunity to begin building your own Achiever Pattern.

How to Spot the Achiever Pattern: Predictive Analytics One Hire at a Time

  • Lower turnover. Too many people change jobs for short-term reasons resulting in a string of lateral transfers. This is okay if turnover isn’t too high - at least then it demonstrates staying power. However, low turnover combined with a track record of growing influence and responsibility is quickly seen by a savvy reviewer (human or otherwise) as a great sign of continued impact and upside potential.
  • Ratio of impact vs. years of experience. My favorite predictive analytic relates to the quality of years of experience, not the quantity of them. Being promoted faster or being asked to participate on a number of increasingly important projects is a strong indicator of potential. The key is the rate of change of growth.
  • Volunteered or assigned to important projects or cross-functional teams very soon after starting. Thirty years ago I started asking all 2-3 year staff level professionals the types of projects they volunteered for or were assigned during their first year on the job. Very quickly it became clear that the best public accountants were always assigned to the most important clients handling challenging technical issues and the best techies were assigned to projects that would stretch them. If they were successful, they got assigned to even bigger projects or asked to be put on them. Similar patterns hold true for all functions, so look for this during the interview.
  • Confirming credibility. Evidence of the Achiever Pattern at one company is a significant career achievement. Achieving it more than once is even better, especially if the subsequent companies are in different industries, with different people, with different cultures and growing at different rates.
  • Rehired and rehires. Being hired by a former co-worker is a good indicator of performance and reliability and hiring a former co-worker is a good indicator of strong management skills. That’s why it’s important to ask these questions as part of every Performance-based Interview.
  • 360° team growth. As part of the work history review, I ask candidates to prepare a work chart listing all of the major teams the person participated on at each past company. As part of this I also find out who was on the team, how the person got on the team and his or her major role. Participation in expanding cross-functional teams with exposure to senior level executives is a strong indicator of the Achiever Pattern.

While not new, predictive analytics is an important factor in assessing a candidate’s fit and potential. What is new is its accelerating use in corporate America as a means to filter candidates in and out of consideration long before any personal assessment is made. My concern is when the focus of this filtering emphasizes skills and experiences rather than past performance and future potential. Despite this concern, the methods used to screen active candidates are improving and becoming more accurate, so every job seeker should take notice.

For those without the Achiever Pattern or those with non-traditional backgrounds, it’s important to take matters into your own hands by hacking a job in the hidden job market. I suspect Big Brother will quickly find out and give you a lot of credit for ingenuity, especially if you're successful. It actually might supersede the Achiever Pattern or be the first step in helping you create your own.


Lou Adler (@LouA) is the CEO of The Adler Group, a consulting and training firm helping companies implement Performance-based Hiring. He's also a regular columnist for Inc. Magazine and BusinessInsider. His latest book, The Essential Guide for Hiring & Getting Hired (Workbench, 2013), provides hands-on advice for job-seekers, hiring managers and recruiters on how to find the best job and hire the best people. You can continue the conversation on LinkedIn's Essential Guide for Hiring Discussion Group.