Looking for clues in a job applicant's past that might predict his or her future performance? Here's an unusual one.

After hiring many of the more than 70 employees for Super Wash Inc., her car-wash chain in Morrison, Ill., Mary Black has found 4-H and Scouting experience to be two of the more reliable tip-offs to likely roll-up-the-sleeves workers -- and ones with leadership abilities to boot.

"Scouts know how to work with a team and be independent at the same time," she says. "And 4-H members are used to keeping detailed records of their projects. My head accountant is a 4-Her, and she's incredible." Recently, Black hired an Eagle Scout to be quality-control inspector. And she herself was a Senior Girl Scout.

When it dawned on Black that many of her best workers had the Scouting/4-H experience in common, she began looking for it. And though she's quick to point out that hiring decisions aren't based on that résumé item alone, she claims it has yet to steer her wrong.

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