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Why I Always Hire for Attitude over Skill (Usually)

Attitude vs Experience: Who Is Best Hire?

"Hire for attitude, train for skill"....I'm sure you have heard it a million times.

The statement is one of the most commonly regurgitated phrases in the book of modern HR.

I like it. It makes sense.

But like most of us, when I'm in the rush of recruiting for a role (ok maybe I left it to the last minute yet again) I can easily slip back into old habits.

Too often a pile of CVs ends up on my desk and I instinctively start looking at applicants like a checklist.

If they don't have the perfect amount of experience or skills, I can write people off without even bothering to book an interview and meet them.

These days, I try and catch myself.

Because, when I do keep an open mind to candidates that, sure may not have the same years of experience as other applicants but seem to have a special quality about them, nine times out ten, I am pleasantly surprised by meeting someone who is well...just perfect.

Now I'm not suggesting that skills are not important.

Some jobs require proven and tangible skills and experience. In fact, in some roles, a certain level of skills is a must.

Who would hire a heart surgeon with no experience but a great attitude to learning? Of course not.

All I'm suggesting is, 99% of the time, a candidate with less experience but an infectious attitude will be the best hire.

So why exactly does attitude trump skills most of the time?

1. No One Started With Skills.

This is an important point to remember.

Most of us can look back at our careers to find that one time, "someone gave us a go."

This usually meant they did in-fact overlook more experienced applicants and gave us the job anyway. They trusted their gut.

This is exactly how most people who have successful careers made their start, meeting someone brave enough to give them a go.

2. Wider Pool of Candidates.

Some jobs will see a heap of applicants. Others may not.

By at least opening your mind to hiring someone who doesn't tick all the experience boxes will immediately widen the potential pool.

In the process, you can find a gem who will be a long term asset to your company.

3. Skills Change, Attitude is for Life.

In 2020, skills mean less than they did just 10 or 20 years ago.

Why? Because things are moving faster than ever. What we learn today may not be much use in a year or two.

This is one of the biggest criticisms of the education system that pumps out graduates who have learned skills that are likely outdated by the time they enter employment.

In my view, it is more important than ever to find new employees who are willing to grow, change and learn over time.

4. Positive Impact on the Company Culture.

Culture is king. Get it right and your organization will flourish. Get it wrong and....well good luck.

Adding a new hire who demonstrates a positive, can-do and supportive attitude can help shape a strong and healthy culture across the organization.

They will help your other employees feel motivated and happy and ultimately lead to a more profitable and successful business.

5. Loyalty

I look back on the times when, as an employee, I felt most loyal to my employer, it was when they had given me an opportunity.

Staff who are hired based on attitude usually recognize the gift they were given and, more often than not, are determined to return the favor to their employer. This is gold.

6. Trust

Unless we want to live and breathe our businesses 24/7, we need to trust and empower our employees.

This could include more responsibility, access to confidential information or something as simple as feeling comfortable to let them do the daily banking rather than having to drive to the shop every night.

Who would you trust more? Someone who displays an impeccable attitude or someone with a nice long CV? I know my answer.

So there you have it, ALWAYS try and hire with attitude at the top of your list of requirements. Doing so will result in a happy and successful business full of employees that have your back.



CEO & Founder


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