Hire for attitude, train for skill?

Attitude-skill test

At Eclipse, when a client calls us to say they have a vacant role we always go into their office to take a detailed job brief.

We start by asking about the company, team, culture and management. We then cover off in detail what the role entails, and then move on to the skills and attributes they are looking for in this person. This is a very valuable discussion, and often creates thoughts and questions about what direction to go in, but ultimately it helps managers formulate a picture of their ideal person.

Where the challenge lies

Sometimes the perfect person doesn’t exist. It may be that the salary is too light to attract the skills required, the mix of skills is hard to find, or there is a lot of competition for the same type of candidate. In times like these companies will need to look for people who fit with their culture and industry, but are trained for the exact skills required.

For example

Often Customer Service roles deal with quite specific products and systems to that industry and company. What’s more, young people tend to start in customer service and quickly move on to other roles as they gain experience. Therefore, when recruiting for customer service positions, you will need to look for people that are client focused, have excellent keyboard and computer skills, have strong attention to detail and are able to learn quickly. Some of these attributes are identified through previous employment experience, some through skills and aptitude testing and others by interviewing and reference checking for transferrable attributes – and of course being able to spot potential!

Another example of where it’s possible to train for skill is in senior roles, such as Operations Managers, General Managers and Financial Controllers. Often, these people have reached these levels of roles because they are intelligent, adaptable, great with people and highly skilled in their area of expertise. What they can quickly learn is a new industry – even with little guidance. Often an outside view can bring fresh ideas and new energy to the industry and business. So why limit your search for a senior position to only people with industry experience when there could be an amazing person that would fit better in the long term?

No compromise

Where you can’t compromise on skills is with highly technical roles such as engineers, production roles or graphic design, for example. In fact, it’s often the other way around – you need to make some allowances for ‘fit’ and attitude to ensure you get the right technical skills for your business. If there is no one to train them, you also might need to focus on recruiting someone with the existing skills.

We encourage you to keep an open mind as to whether or not the role can be trained – managers tend to think the skills can’t be trained, when in fact they can with a bit of effort. It is better to have someone in your business that has the right attitude and is a fast learner, than someone with existing skills but who overall isn’t the right fit for the business or team.

Our aim is to find you the best match of attitude, attributes and skills. Where there may need to be a compromise, based on our recruitment experience and knowledge of the candidate market, we can assist with your decision making and provide options so that overall you get the best outcome for your business.

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