The Power of the High-Potential Hire


Indeed Blog

What makes a great employee? When you’re looking through your applicants, you might first be drawn to their experience, trying to understand if they’d be the right fit based on what they’ve done in the past. For growing businesses, though, the answer might not always lie in experience. Instead, you need to identify the potential of your applicants and select the candidates who will bring both passion and possibility to your organization. We call this kind of person a high-potential hire.

The high-potential hire can have an outsized impact on any business and for the right candidate, a smaller company can be the ideal work environment. Growing businesses are characterized by evolving needs and new challenges. In this setting, the ideal employee is someone who can jump in and wear many different hats. They confront new situations with confidence and not too much guidance. As your company grows, your ideal employee may need to take on new responsibility and leadership, so hiring the right person up front is a high-stakes endeavor.

Identifying these candidates is one part of the equation. The next part is figuring out how to hire them. Here are three steps to help you attract and bring on high-potential candidates.

  1. Write a job description that details the possibilities

In your job description, make it clear that your workplace is an environment where talented employees get as much as they give. For a high-potential employee, the chance to learn is as important as compensation, so emphasize opportunities to exercise leadership and take ownership of critical projects. Detail organizational goals along with specific roles and responsibilities to help high-potential candidates see chances to make a difference.

This job description from Socialware does a great job of describing the kind of company it is and the kind of candidates that will thrive there. They highlight the opportunity for leadership in a growing team and the need for candidates who are “both humble and smart.”



Another growing business, Menders Inc., expresses their willingness to hire entry-level candidates who “have the aptitude and are interested in making a difference.”


Because these jobs are posted directly to Indeed, they are easy for candidates to apply to. When the job speaks to the right person, they will be able to get in touch immediately.

  1. Learn to recognize signs of potential

Most resumes are written to focus on the verbs, with candidates highlighting the projects they managed, the things they created or the efforts they led. These words are important because they help employers understand the quantitative impact that someone has had.

Without ignoring that kind of impact, see if there are any other indicators of potential you can glean from a resume. Take note of how a candidate describes their experience: the adjectives and adverbs that candidates use in their resumes. Do you see signs of passion and ambition? Do they use words that convey the emotional impact of their work?

Even if you don’t find concrete answers to those questions while reviewing the resume, it can be a helpful way to prepare for an interview. Now that you have potential on your mind, pay attention to what’s on the page and what’s not. Ask the candidate to fill in the gaps for you once you’re in conversation.

You can search resumes for free on Indeed to get an idea of how people describe themselves. If you find resumes you like, you can reach out to candidates directly and schedule interviews with those who express interest.

  1. Create a hiring process that lets potential shine

Once you’re in the interview, take note of how the candidate prepared. Does this person have insightful questions about how your company works? Does the conversation move quickly to issues of strategy and process improvement? Can they talk about the nuance and complexity of their past accomplishments? If so, you may have a high-potential candidate.

If you’ve posted your jobs on Indeed, you’ll have access to an applicant dashboard that enables you to manage the hiring process end to end. You can take notes from your interviews and share them with other stakeholders. Make sure that you’re collectively taking notice of a candidate’s potential and sharing your observations.

Once you’ve spotted the high-potential hire, don’t let them slip through the cracks. Extend your offer as soon as possible. You can email them directly from the dashboard so they aren’t put off by a long wait time. You can also send customized emails to rejected candidates so that you don’t alienate people who have an interest in your company. You might want to reach out to this same pool of talent for another opening, so make sure to tactfully let them down.

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