Should I hire a person on their strengths?

Mention the word recruitment to a group of people and watch their reaction.  Some might think back to the Consultant who didn't return their call, or maybe even mumble about the person who didn't understand me at all.  

When I think of the word recruitment, I think of words like Important and Competitive Advantage.  Seriously, one of the most important capabilities a business can develop is to be able to attract the right people into the right roles at will, on purpose.

How did recruitment get like this?

Generally speaking, the world of Recruitment (both internal and external) is a bizarre patchwork quilt of experiences.  There are a handful of people who really do care about the process and those people involved in a recruitment process.  However there are many involved in the Recruitment Agency world who can rarely see past the revenue target they are chasing down.  Don't get me wrong, I think it is extremely important for a Company to be profitable, but possibly not at the expense of a person's career.  Internally, recruitment duties are often pushed towards people who may not necessarily have the skills or knowledge to complete the task properly.  And then there are others who simply rely on their automated applicant tracking systems, believing in the certainty of 'predictive analytics' and 'automation'.

Don't believe the all of the marketing hype.  When it involves people, 'predictive' is rarely better than a toss of the coin, and 'automation' often involves a massive trade-off in accuracy and experience of the applicant.

People are not machines, at least not yet.

What about strengths?

There are organisations like Gallup who have invested heavily in the area of strengths assessments in recent years.  I have completed the exercise myself and found it rather enlightening.  (If you are looking for an assessment, get in touch and I can refer you to a few people I know and trust).

On the surface it makes sense, right?  Hire someone on the basis of what they are good at, and the Company gets more bang for its buck.  It is however worth considering one other thing - what does the person want to be good at?  Sure they have their current strengths, but if they are no longer interested in these areas any more, or are looking to make a change, their biggest strengths are all of a sudden their biggest possible weaknesses.

Let's say we are looking to recruit a new sales person whose prime responsibility will be to hunt for new business.  We are choosing between two candidates - one that has a brilliant track record of new sales in a similar industry, and one who could have transferable skills and is just itching to be given an opportunity.  The experienced person with the ready-made strengths is expecting a higher salary.

Which one would you choose?

Of course, there isn't enough information here to make a decision - there are other factors that would need to feed into the decision making process.  However let's be honest, how likely would it be for a person who didn't have the right experience to make it through the automated application process in the first place?  It comes down to the keywords used in the resume.

Will is as important as skill?

Over the years, I have worked with some brilliant people who have made a great contribution in a new area simply because they really wanted to.  They were given an opportunity that they really wanted, and they outperformed others with more experience.  They were more determined, loyal, made things happen and rarely complained or expected things served up on platters.

Food for thought don't you think?

What is the implication?

If I wanted to get the most out of my recruitment budget, I would probably first have to consider what is it that is important, and what am I prepared to trade off.  Possibly the most important starting point for the budget conscious decision-maker is to get very clear about what the role is, what is required, and what are the things that are prerequisites.  This will help to communicate the role properly, and also supports people to self select themselves out of applying.  This is a significant time-saver.  I might then choose to work with a recruitment agency to provide me with a 'long-list' of applicants, thereby utilising their expertise, but avoiding the hefty fee.  I would also drop any notion of 'selling' the role to someone, and rather approach it as one of information exchange.  I would also strip from my vocabulary the terms 'rejection', 'culture-fit' and 'achievements' (i will explain this in a future blog post) and instead double-down on 'what is it that you really want to do and be good at, and why?


About the author:


Jason Buchanan is the general manager for insights and innovation of Optimum Consulting Group, a trusted and leading HR consultancy firm in Australia. He is the brain behind Optimum Direct, a web portal of the best HR tools and software for small business. He is interested in finding solutions on how companies can continue to grow without destroying the things that are important to them (employees, customers, suppliers, reputation etc). reputation etc).