You Should Hire People, Not Talent

Forget Talent. Here's why organizations should focus on people, learning and skills.

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If you do a quick search on the phrase “Top Talent” you’ll see a variety of articles about “Finding Top Talent”, “Finding the Perfect Candidate”, “How to Hire the Best”, and the list goes on.

But recruiting and hiring will make you crazy if you believe that there is a perfect candidate out there.

Or if you believe that only this type of candidates will have success.

So, please don’t fall into the trap of holding out for the “perfect” employee and don’t make the mistake of thinking that the “top gun” candidates in your field are necessarily the best for you.

Looking for these imaginary employees is a misguided effort.

So, it’s time for organizations to stop fixating on talent and to focus on People, their Skills, and if they have the ability to learn new things instead. As Lucas, an HR consultant and writer of the Evil HR Lady blog, explains, “When we use the word ‘talent’ to refer to employees, what we’re implying is you need to have the knowledge, skills and abilities to do the job perfectly from day one.”

So the next time you’re filling a job, shift how you evaluate applicants. Suzanne Lucas explains, “We need to not only look at ‘Does this person already know how to do something?’ but ‘Can she learn it’?”

But, How can you tell if someone can learn something?

“Well, have they learned hard things in the past?” asks Lucas. “Do they know similar things? Do they have a history of recovering from failure? Somebody that has failed and then succeeded has demonstrated they have the grit and guts necessary” to tackle and overcome new challenges. As we face a future of great uncertainty in terms of the kinds of jobs available, the people who can learn new skills — especially those with resilience and a growth mindset — will be among the most valuable.

This doesn’t mean you have to hire not adequate employees. But, from my experience, great employees are made, not found.

So, if you remove talent from the equation, it’s easy to see that just about anybody can learn just about anything with hard work and dedication. When businesses are willing to invest in training and development, they’ll find that the talent shortage disappears because it never existed in the first place.

Here’s how you can recruit and mold your employees into exactly what your company needs:

· Fix your job postings

Unrealistic expectations often start with the job description. A list of qualifications a mile long can scare off perfectly capable candidates, leaving hiring managers frustrated with the volume or quality of applicants they receive.

You have to immediately realize what you are looking for in a new hire. A great culture fit first, with the potential to grow into the skills they need with proper training.

· Look for concrete cultural values

The first thing you should look for in a candidate is whether they’ll embrace your organization’s culture. Look to your leaders and best employees to find the qualities they share to build out your values. Once you have your values, tie them to actions.

Communicate those values to everyone involved in the hiring process and craft interview questions that shed light on the candidate’s alignment to those values. If an applicant isn’t open to improving, has the wrong personality for the job or is difficult to work with, their hard skills won’t matter.

· Hire for potential and flexibility

Ask for concrete examples of a time in a candidate’s career when they didn’t have the answers to a problem, and how they solved it. People with a growth mindset will show that they are capable of taking initiative and working hard.

If you have hired someone agile who is willing to adapt and change the way they have done things before, they will have a better chance of succeeding. If they are flexible, that’s an indicator they are teachable.

· Identify which skills to train

Try to identify what you want your new hire to be able to do right when they come. Which skills will they need to make an impact immediately?

When the time comes to fill gaps in their skills, you have numerous options. Have them shadow one of their veteran coworkers, find a mentor, attend a bootcamp or turn to online learning.

If they have the potential to be great, give them the opportunity to be.

· Build a culture of learning

If you show your employees you care about their professional development, you’ll build a culture where your employees want to learn how to do something instead of finding someone to do it for them.

So, stop looking to find the perfect candidate and start learning how you can screen candidates for skill, learning ability and cultural fit rather than talent.

Only in this way you can attract, create and retain the best employees.

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