Who Would You Hire: The Silver Spoon or the Scrapper?

Regina Hartley has been the human resources manager at the United Parcel Service for 25 years. She has viewed thousands of resumes, and claims that most resumes fall into two categories — silver spoons and scrappers.

The silver spoon resume reads something like this:
• 4.0 grade point average throughout high school and college.
• Studied abroad.
• Graduate of an elite, private college or university.
• Recommendations from powerful people.
• High-level intern summer job experience.
• Destined for success.

The scrapper resume may look like this:
• Graduate of a state public college or university.
• Frequent job hopping.
• Gaps between jobs.
• Experience in menial and temporary professions like cashier or waiter.
• Familiar with failure.

Keep in mind, both of these candidates are qualified for the job. Which one would you interview?

I think you know the answer to this question. Most of us would interview the silver spoon.

Hartley has nothing against the silver spoons. She understands that it take a lot of hard work to be successful at a high level.

However, she cautions us to not forget about the scrappers, whose resumes resemble a patchwork quilt that tell a complex story. Their work records may indicate up and down moments, lack of direction and disorganization. Or their track records may suggest a dedicated effort against obstacles. At a minimum, they deserve an interview.

Hartley claims that scrappers benefit from a recent psychological phenomenon called post-traumatic growth. This occurs when we undergo positive change as the result of a stressor in our lives. Most of us know this experience through the phrase “what does not kill us, makes us stronger.” She believes that scrappers have more of these types of experiences than silver spoons.

Would you interview this person?
• Parents gave him up for adoption.
• College drop-out.
• Inconsistent job history, including firings.
• Took a hiatus to India to find himself.
• Suffered from dyslexia.

If you would not interview this person, then you just turned down Steve Jobs.

The pecking order of who gets an interview is at the heart of diverse and inclusive recruitment. Not only do we want the best, the brightest and the most qualified, but we want job candidates with diverse spectrums of backgrounds, education, culture, interests and experiences.

While silver spoons fit some of the above attributes, it is the scrapper that has the greater advantage because they know something about adversity and have developed a toughness for today’s workplace challenges. They can navigate the volatility, uncertainty, constant change and ambiguity of our current workplaces because they have been there and done that.

Who do you want to work with: the show horse or the work horse, the talker or the doer, the looker or the grinder, the silver spoon or the scrapper? I would take scrappers over silver spoons any day of the week, with the comfort of knowing I have someone that not only can take a punch but can deliver one as well.

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Francesca El-Attrash

Really thoughtful article. I think it definitely varies from case to case, but you definitely make some really strong points for scrappers out there. Overcoming adversity is definitely an important factor to consider.