Recruit Different

Experience can sometimes kill our workplaces. Not because people can’t be taught new ways of doing things, but because old habits die hard. Sometimes they don’t die at all.

When hiring for our companies, we tend to gravitate towards those that have been there and done it, in hopes that they can hit the ground running and cut our training/acclimation time half. This can work to our benefit, but also to our detriment when we have to “unteach” many of the negative behaviors they may be bringing with them from their previous employer.

soft-skills-1 I am not aware of a training program that can teach people how not to be an ass. Nor have I seen an effective curriculum that can help employees be compassionate, have common sense or fairness. Unfortunately, these are traits that our prospectives must already possess or are willing and able to get better at.

This raises the question, are we better off finding developmental talent or should we continue to recruit candidates that have been around the block? I say that this depends on a few things:

  • Do we need employees that will be primarily used for transactional work or do they need a certain level of expertise and hands-on experience?
  • Can the skill set that we need be taught…and do we have the resources to help them get there?
  • Does the experienced person’s knowledge and know-how outweigh our need for fit?

Having worked in several customer service environments, I remember looking through resumes and the hiring managers would get excited to see someone that had worked in very similar environments as ours. Unfortunately for us, while the functions they performed were similar to the ones we would have them do, our service philosophies were starkly different.

On several occasions we would have to remind employees that in our environment, Customer Service meant more than just getting clients in and out, it was about relationship, patience and problem solving. It wasn’t until we started hiring a few people from outside of our industry that we realized that we needed a certain type of person as opposed to certain past jobs and experiences. It turned out that these inexperienced yet quality individuals could learn our products, systems and processes in time as long as they had a core desire to treat our clients the very way they needed to be treated.

interviewInstead of looking for the person that has the most book knowledge, maybe we should recruit based on the right attitude and their aptitude to learn as shown by there career progression. Truth is, most “work stuff” can really be taught to anyone off the street. Think about that for a second…

Times up.

Maybe instead of focusing on the candidate that has all of the letters behind their name, we turn our attention to those that have the demonstrated character traits that we want or need in our workplaces. Maybe we take a look at where they’re going instead of where they’ve been. Maybe we should place more value on career trajectory instead of lateral career decisions.

I may be totally off base. I may be all kinds of wrong…but isn’t it worth it to your organization and clients to try something different..especially if you keep striking out by hiring jerks that are rude to your public, mistreat their coworkers, aren’t willing to listen to or learn from management, and are stuck in their same old non-productive ways? Recruit different and see how it works out for you. If it doesn’t, it’s more likely because they aren’t invested in once on board. And if that’s the case, maybe the candidates aren’t the problem.


11 thoughts on “Recruit Different

  1. Great article.

    I do however believe that Soft Skills can be learned/taught. That in the process, it nudges the overall environment and positions teams to move needles efficiently/effectively.

    Have a look at SeeFuture (seefuture[dot]com). My Founding partner are betting on the fact that once we connect job seekers with the environment we change the hiring quality/trajectory.

    Appreciate your insight and sharing. Enjoy.


  2. Hey Justin,

    I get so excited when I read an article that speaks to my philosophy about talent management. Employers get so caught up in seeking a person that has everything they think they want on paper and then will accept the closest they can find when it comes to cultural and environmental fit. It frustrates me when employers won’t look at a particular client because they don’t see a particular set of buzz words on their resume. If a candidate submits their resume for a position and at first glance, there is no apparent match, a great talent manager/recruiter will take a look at the candidates core strengths in their skill sets as well as their accomplishments to glean insight on who the candidate might be and can bring to the role. Most serious jobseekers (not serious for the sake of financial gain, but seriously seeking the right opportunity) will not waste anyone’s time applying for a position even they don’t believe they can be successful performing.

    Often employers hire someone with the idea that they should come in and hit the ground running simply because they had the same or similar position in another organization. The problem with that is they could very well be running in the wrong direction and cause major setbacks and loss of revenue. Every organization is different even if they are in the same industry selling, producing or servicing the exact same widgets. The similarities usually stop there.

    A new hire should be allowed three to six months before being expected to master a role and set the tone and direction for his/her leadership role purview. Hiring mistakes are the same as growing a business too fast without the property infrastructure to handle the growth. It can be the rapid demise of the business and leave no opportunity to recover.

    Thanks again for the article. Keep up the great work!


  3. Pingback: Recruit Different | michelechouinard

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  5. Good insight Justin. The challenge is to convince the hiring manager to look beyond some of what is on the resume. If the recruiter has credibility, this can be done. Assessments and preemployment testing would be helpful to show that they are getting people with the right characteristics for the position too. Assessments will weed out the rude, poor customer service people and highlight the strengths of others. Soft skills can be taught but it’s a bit of an uphill battle.


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