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Hire For Character, Train For Skill

11.13.14   |   Best Hiring Practices   |   Chelsey Canavan, Marketing Manager at Treeline, Incorporated

woman holding a sign that says Hire character, train skillWe hear it all the time, hire for character and train for skill, but what does that actually mean and does anyone follow that advice?

More often than not, a company or hiring manager is looking to hire that next sales superstar that is clear and obvious from solely reading a resume. They look for keywords that align with who they are looking to hire and what position they are trying to fill. If they need someone who has three or more years selling software solutions to enterprise clients, then your resume better reflect that in order to be considered. If it doesn’t, good luck getting your foot in the door.

And even if you have that experience but can’t articulate clearly on a piece of paper, your resume is going to be passed over within less than a minute.

I apologize for the brutal honesty, but I needed to set that framework to be able to talk about what I really wanted to address.

I work in recruiting and market to professionals on a daily basis who could be potential fits for our clients, based on their resume and those magic keywords. However, I also understand that it is almost nearly impossible to conclude that someone is the perfect fit for a job solely based on their resume.

Why? BECAUSE the resume reflects relevant experience but not personality characteristics.

Yes, relevant experience is absolutely important when looking to fill a specific role and should not be disregarded. However, I can tell you personally that I have seen some pretty amazing resumes that have a far less than pleasant person on the other end. And on the flip side, I have seen some not so wonderful resumes but when speaking with the individual, I realized how awesome and talented they were.

Having the essential skillset does not make someone a perfect fit for a company, but having the right motivation, drive and aptitude to join a company does put you in better standing. Hiring managers should look for not all the raw skills, but actually the soft skills in a person. Are they coachable? Are they likeable? Can they work in a team-based environment? Are they driven to succeed? Do they bring a positive attitude to the office?

Personally, I know that when Treeline looks to hire we look for some core fundamentals regarding experience but ultimately decide if the person is a fit due to their character by asking the question “Is this someone I can sit next to everyday to help grow and shape the company?”

So my advice to hiring managers, is to use the resume as a compass and not the ultimate determining factor, unless the person is completely off spec. Consider phone screening candidates to get a feel for who they are before counting them out of the process.  Remember, it’s easier to train a person to equip them with a stronger skillset, but it’s nearly impossible to change who a person is. If you hire someone who has positive attributes, you may find that they are easier to train and more eager to learn, than a skilled but unprincipled candidate.

And my advice to job seekers is that even though a resume cannot capture who you are, make sure you tailor it to the positions/companies you are applying to. Also, know your story and be able to effectively leverage and articulate who you are when interviewing with a company. People buy from people they like, and people hire people they like.

 

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