It's the attitude, stupid

May 31 2011 by Brian Amble Print This Article

With much of the world still mired in economic woe, it might seem rather paradoxical that almost a third of employers worldwide complain that they cannot find qualified talent.

According to a survey by the ManpowerGroup, one in three employers globally report difficulty filling jobs due to lack of available talent, the highest percentage since before the recession in 2007.

In the US, half of employers report recruitment problems despite record levels of un- (and under-) employment.

Nine out of 10 employers cite candidate-specific factors behind the challenge of filling mission-critical roles — including a lack of necessary skills and experience, insufficient qualifications, or a lack of soft skills, the survey found.

But the key point of the survey isn't found in the headline numbers. It's the fact that the hardest roles to fill (sales representatives and skilled trades workers) are the same jobs that employers have reported having difficulty filling for the past four years.

So why are employers not re-evaluating how they are recruiting for these positions?

The answer – as Dan Bobinski put it very succinctly in a piece he wrote more than five years ago – is simple. Hire for attitude – train for skill.

Since this message still doesn't seem to be getting through, it's worth repeating:

"The most important factor in hiring is attitude. Hire for it. Through the resume process you're going to find people who have the basic skill levels you're looking for. That's the first hoop. Then with a telephone screen you can find out if people have the foundational knowledge and the intellect for what you want.

But when you bring them in for an interview, the most important question you need to answer is "Can we work with this applicant?" The second most-important question is "Is this applicant teachable?"

If you cannot answer "yes" to BOTH of those questions, a "do not hire" sign needs start flashing above your candidate's head. Move them along, wish them well, and bring in your next applicant.

....Applicants with the right attitude can learn whatever skills are required of them."

Or – to put it more bluntly – as Laurie Ruettimann did in a forthright post recently, "there are plenty of reasons why jobs go unfilled but much of it has nothing to do with a lack of qualified candidates

....The war for talent is overstated by HR teams and recruiting professionals who lack the required skills, resources, and backbone to hire talented people".