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Best of the web reads: What Richard Branson looks for when he hires

Friday, 27 September 2013 | By Myriam Robin

How Richard Branson decides who to hire: Ever wondered how the world’s top entrepreneurs hire people? LinkedIn has been asking them to write posts explaining it. Richard Branson says he always tries to pick someone with a good personality. “Most skills can be learnt, but it is difficult to train people on their personality,” he writes. “If you can find people who are fun, friendly, caring and love helping others, you are on to a winner.”


Personality can be hard to determine in an interview, but that’s where your skill comes in. And that’s why it’s worth taking it slow. “When companies go through growth spurts, they often hire in bulk and company culture can suffer,” Branson continues. “While it may seem a desperate rush to get somebody through the door to help carry the load, it is worth being patient to find the right person, rather than hurrying and unbalancing your team.”


It’s not just Branson who’s weighed in – more than 80 entrepreneurs have written down their perspective on the ideal candidate. Between Branson and people like former GE head Jack Welch (who looks for the ‘generosity gene’), there’s plenty to learn.


How Johnnie Walker conquered the world: Did you know Johnnie Walker comes from Scotland? Until I read this brilliant Foreign Policy piece, I had no idea. The brand is so ubiquitous I had always assumed it was owned by some American company. While most scotches emphasise their proud citizenship of the world’s whisky capital, Johnnie Walker does the exact opposite. In its marketing, it instead stressed its connection to every country it’s sold in. That’s how the walking man has conquered the world.


Why grit, not IQ, determines success: Entrepreneurs know grit matters more than smarts in making something work. But it’s not typically an attitude shared by broader society. Math-teacher-turned-psychologist Angela Duckworth is trying to change that.


She’s been developing measures of how likely people are to stick through the hard times, which is far more likely to determine their ultimate success than their IQ. If you register with Penn State University (it’s free), you can take her ‘grit test’ online here.


Is Seek doomed? In Killing Fairfax, a recent book by Fairfax journalist Pamela Williams, she charts how online giants like Seek and CarSales.com.au diverted journalism’s rivers of gold into their own pockets, by offering searchable, shareable online databases of classifieds that ultimately met the needs of consumers better than the pages of the newspaper. But what if the whole idea of the jobs board, which companies like SEEK merely updated for the digital age, is outdated?


On Mumbrella, software entrepreneur Glyn Brokensha argues that companies no longer need to post on things like Seek to get people to apply for their ads. Through building direct relationships with potential employees through social media, they can bypass the job board entirely when it comes to recruiting.