Google has no problem attracting top candidates. The tech giant offers employees challenging work and second-to-none perks.

Google hasn't always been the household name it is today. In 2004, the company used an interesting tactic to entice curious minds to apply. On Highway 101 in Silicon Valley, Google placed a billboard that had only these giant words:

{first 10-digit prime found in consecutive digits of e}.com

That's all it said. The colorful Google logo appeared nowhere. The billboard wasn't particularly creative looking, just black words on a white background. There were no other hints in the cryptic message.

Those who solved the puzzle and went to 7427466391.com, where they were invited to apply to Google.

Google still hires for this personality trait today.

At the time, Google was trying to recruit more engineers. But not just any engineers. Curious ones. The path a potential candidate would take to submit their resume at 7427466391.com required curiosity and desire to problem solve. Curiosity is still one of the top traits Google recruits for today, even outside its technical team. The tech giant has a reputation for asking candidates brain teasers during the interview process.

Harvard Business Review used this early Google billboard story to show why curiosity is an important trait that companies should look for and cultivate in employees. Solving challenging business problems doesn't always come down to being the smartest person in the room; it often starts with the most curious person in the room.

It's associated with higher job performance.

"When our curiosity is triggered, we think more deeply and rationally about decisions and come up with more-creative solutions," behavioral scientist Francesca Gino writes. In her research on the topic, Gino has discovered that fostering curiosity among employees leads to better workplaces, more innovative thinking, and creative problem solving. She's also found that natural curiosity is associated with higher job performance.

There are many reasons why people who are naturally curious perform better at work. For one, you might not immediately know how to solve every obstacle that lands in your path. Even people who went to top colleges, have enviable IQs and boast a robust set of skills get stuck. People with inquisitive minds ask questions and look at the problem from different perspectives. That's what ultimately leads to the solution

Constant learners have a competitive edge.

Naturally curious people also love to learn, often exploring subjects and topics outside their area of expertise just for the fun of it. An innate curiosity drives them to dive into new subjects, topics and ideas.

Warren Buffett reads 500 pages a day.

Bill Gates churns through an epic number of books each year.

Mark Cuban's summer reading list included books about politics and behavioral economics.

Want to stand out in the job market? Try learning a skill that has nothing to do with your job title. Whether it's studying a new language or learning how to build furniture, your mind will benefit from doing something outside your normal routine. You'll begin to ask more questions and explore. This will help foster your intellectual curiosity as you begin to learn something new, starting from square one.

Published on: Sep 13, 2018