Skills versus Attitude

I’ve recruited many, many, people over the course of my 25 years in business, and I would say that my expertise in picking the ‘right’ people has improved greatly with age.

Elsewhere, I write about the doubt that candidates feel when writing their CVs or resumes, but its fair to say that employers feel an equivalent doubt when recruiting, chiefly stemming from questions like:

  • can this candidate do the job?
  • will they fit in with the rest of the team and company?
  • will they go ‘over-and-above’ when needed?
  • are they a clock-watcher?
  • will they take responsibility, or shirk it on someone else?
  • will they be constructive or disruptive?

Recruiting is such an important part of any manager’s job, when you pick the right people you get an uplift on productivity and efficiency, but when you pick the wrong candidate you not only miss those benefits, but you also incur delays, lost time in the process, disruption, and expense – plus, when a candidate doesn’t work out in the role, you have the horrible task of removing them and then going through the whole process again.  Increasingly, I find myself considering the ‘soft’ factors of a candidates make-up more than the hard factors.

By ‘soft factors’, I mean factors like:

  • attitude (to work and to life in general)
  • aptitude (or, ability to learn new things and adapt)
  • presentation (does this person take care of themselves)
  • motivation (are they a ‘lean forward’ person, or a ‘lean back’ person – generally I find I prefer the former)
  • achievements (not just work related, and in many cases I want to see non-work related as it shows they self-actuate when at leisure)

By ‘hard factors’ I mean:

  • qualifications
  • experience
  • domain knowledge

In practice, this means that I get one (or sometimes more) of my technically qualified and skilled team members to interview and confirm qualifications for the role (e.g. technical competency, and technical or practical tests, etc.), BUT I rely upon my own judgment for the soft factors.

Its the soft factors that a less experienced manager will miss. And I believe the reason they miss them is because the perceived ‘safe’ bet is the guy (or gal) with all the qualifications, right? Wrong.

So, that’s it, I value ATTITUDE and APTITUDE higher than qualifications, that’s not to say hard factors are not important, but I consider them a ‘checkbox’ or ‘hygiene’ item. That is to say they must be there (check), but when faced with candidates that check all the boxes, the ones I will employ are those that win on all the ‘soft’ factors.

And why is all this important to you, as a candidate? Because it tells you how you need to present yourself to me FROM THE OUTSET. Sure, you can give me a list of qualifications, experience, knowledge if you like, and I get TONS of CVs and resumes bursting at the seams with this stuff – but, if you REALLY want to impress me, to stand out, show me the soft factors, be different, stand out.

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2 Responses to Skills versus Attitude

  1. Pingback: I’m a hiring manager – Want to know what turns me on? | Talk to Shine

  2. Pingback: 10½ Tips to get the jobs that aren’t advertised | Talk to Shine

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