Why are attitudes more important than facts

Hire for attitude, train for skills. Or better not?

The sentence "Hire for attitude, train for skills " echoes through all the corridors in the recruiting departments across the country. What exactly is it? And even more important: Does this approach actually make sense or does it not even worsen personnel selection?

A typical Persoblogger holistic critical view from practice (if you read everything to the end).

Which does ______________ mean "Hire for attitude, train for skills"?

Translated, this sentence means something like "Hire people based on their attitude and motivation and teach them the necessary skills. ". There is already a large part of interpretation in my free translation. And this is exactly where it gets exciting, because the specific form can then be quite different. With clearly different effects.

From the decay of knowledge in the VUCA world

Incidentally, the considerations are not all that new. They were already written about at the beginning of this century. The trigger was the realization that we live in an increasing VUCA world. If this term still doesn't mean anything, I strongly recommend my blog post on the most important terms on the subject of digitization for HR professionals.

In a world that is changing ever faster with technological, economic and social developments, the decline in knowledge and skills is accelerating. What is the solution today can be the problem tomorrow.

The solution today, the problem tomorrow

With regard to skills, in the sense of abilities, this has massive consequences. Especially in the area of ​​hard skills.

A practical example: Many readers will still remember the beginnings of the Internet. In Web 1.0, supposedly progressive Internet pages could be recognized by the fact that they had so-called Flash animations in front of them. The turning and whirling play of colors suggested dynamism and interactivity. Ultimately, however, they only loosened up text wastes for a short time, but were annoying on the second visit to the same page.

Flash continued to develop and became the standard for animation in Web 2.0. Again and again I was on the verge of further qualifying myself in this area and becoming a Flash expert. Good thing I didn't do that. Because with the triumph of the iPhone, Flash lost a lot of its importance. Steve Jobs unceremoniously banned Flash from his devices for security reasons. Over time, HTML5 became the standard instead. Flash skills were no longer in demand.

The half-life of skills and knowledge is falling dramatically

If the world's knowledge doubles every two years, the value of that knowledge decreases. So only very few would put a multi-part lexicon volume on the bookshelf. Because by the time of going to press, some of the knowledge would already be out of date. Nowadays we outsource knowledge to the internet. And we hope that Google search will provide us with this knowledge quickly and easily when we need it.

For employees in companies, however, this means lifelong learning. Above all, this requires the ability to learn and a willingness to learn. And also the will to "Unlearn" (English: unlearn). In other words, consciously letting go of the changing knowledge in order to be open to a new approach.

The myth of many years of experience

Nonetheless, there is still a dangerous myth among recruiters: the belief that longstanding work in a certain area always goes hand in hand with constant improvement in job-related skills. And worse. HR managers assume that a person will be able to use these skills at least just as well in the new company when performing a different job under changed framework conditions.

I have already seen in the article that this myth has a clearly negative impact on the validity of current personnel selection "How you can optimize your personnel selection immediately" shown in detail on the basis of scientific findings.

The egg-laying woolly milk sow expert

In particular, departments with hiring managers who have no direct connection to the current job market are even more than ever looking for the egg-laying woolly milk sow expert. As part of the job clarification process, you write requirement profiles to recruiters that are almost overlooked.

The increased complexity of the topic did not lead to the requirements for potential applicants being reduced. On the contrary. The list of criteria to be met by the new employees sought (hard skills and soft skills) is becoming even longer.

So let's move even further away from the "Hire for attitude, train for skills" -Thoughts?

Skill-based AI matching on the rise

The market for offers with skill-based matching speaks in favor of this assumption. Via artificial intelligence, providers want to bring job seekers into contact with employers even more easily by bringing the two together on the basis of skills and competencies. I have already tested such platforms on my blog.

However, some providers have recognized that matching based on skills is too short-sighted. For example, the provider GOOD & CO is trying to use personality profiles for job matching with its app. My critical app test made waves back then.

Cultural Fit - the fit to the company

The fit with the company was recognized years ago as an important factor in the selection of new employees. As a result, employers today can use a variety of digital systems with the help of which applicants can be measured against the respective corporate culture based on their personality.

Nevertheless, a realistic look at practice reveals that culture-based matching would still be uncharted territory in most companies. The experience of skill-based recruiting is too deep.

Creating meaning as the basis for satisfied work

With the keyword "Meaning" or Purpose (more on this soon on this blog) another thought flows into the consideration. If, according to the Gallup study, which I viewed critically, almost three quarters of employees are dissatisfied with their current job and are doing their job according to regulations, the problem may lie in a completely different place. Because most employees are employed on the basis of their skills or their knowledge. But not with a view to their work preferences, not the way they work want. They don't work in their IKIGAI.

So would you rather pay attention to the attitude and attitude and neglect the skills?

When the attitude is put before the skills

Hopefully you will know what I mean by this, even if this subheading sounds a little weird. Let's think it through, like a consistent one "Hire for attitude, train for skills" look and what results the procedure would lead to.

Skill-based matching reduces opportunities for career changers

A consistent changeover to the personality-oriented approach would have a particularly positive effect on the opportunities for lateral entrants and those with insufficient qualifications. With the extremely skill-based approach, these job seekers regularly and systematically fall through the search and selection grid of the HR departments.

It is of little use to be a doer type, hands-on and work through topics if the keywords required for a tool used in the context of personnel selection are missing in the résumé and the cover letter.

Counteract the shortage of skilled workers

Numerous industries, such as IT, complain about a shortage of skilled workers. Strangely enough, the IT managers in the companies still drive the "Perfect Match"-Approach. Everything has to fit perfectly, especially when it comes to technical skills. It could "Train for skills" mean that missing skills are not immediately and automatically a reason for rejection for applicants. Rather, this would only be a reason to talk about (post) qualification and to approach it systematically.

Smaller companies often find it difficult to provide further training

At this point, the realities in smaller medium-sized companies (after all, the majority of all companies in Germany) differ from those in large companies and corporations. In the latter case, hordes of personnel developers and training departments deal exclusively with the systematization of employee qualification. In this respect, it should be easier for them to focus on (post) qualification at first.

In smaller companies, on the other hand, there are often only a few people who could take care of induction or further training. Here, the new hires should first bring the relevant skills into the company.

Risks of a "Hire for attitude, train for skills"Approach

But even in larger companies, the (radical) departure from the classic skill-based approach brings with it some risks. If the search criteria are changed or refocused from hard skills and soft skills in the direction of soft skills or personality-oriented characteristics, the recruiting success is diluted.

General, relatively indefinite accumulation of properties

In my post "How to increase the success of your job advertisements immediately" I had already written on the basis of studies about the challenge that job advertisements that are too general and not very specific bring with them. Also supposedly strongly defining terms like "Learning ability", "Ability to change", "Flexibility" or "Agility" are in fact not differentiating at all. Especially since they are often used in a more phrase-like way, like buzzwords.

A practical example of such an "Attitude" display

The term "Dilution" show the intended effect using the example of a specific job advertisement from the Internet. Their text reads:

"You are not completely screwed, you are able to supply yourself with basic groceries in the supermarket, you do not fail at the EC terminal, you do not need a semester of vacation for the next five weeks because you first have to find yourself, you can do that Read the clock, don't have to write a Whats-App every three minutes, check Facebook, master the basic arithmetic, can communicate in German, you can imagine working at least five times a week without suffering from burnout syndrome? Then let me know…".

Who exactly should feel addressed by this job advertisement, which you can also find on Facebook Jobs? Probably everyone. OK, at least for those who are not looking for a part-time job. But otherwise nobody would seriously deselect themselves here, would they? And yet, some companies have taken this ad for themselves and copied it. I guess because they wanted to shine with supposed creativity.

The only criterion that is clearly recognizable: someone should have the will to work regularly at all.

If there is a care emergency, look for an apprentice - no matter who comes

To be fair, I have to bring you another practical example at this point, in which this approach of the quasi-zero requirement was used very successfully and quite sensibly. The Caritas Association Düsseldorf started a few years ago under the motto "Training on call" to recruit trainees - and still does. Indeed, with minimal requirements for the job.

Here the concept worked surprisingly well, since the only one required was real "Attitude" Here the desire for a job in elderly care for the employer Caritas was.

Attitude, personality or motivation alone are usually not enough

But let's be honest: Would you put the programming of your applicant management system in the hands of a highly motivated and IT-interested zoo keeper? Or the extremely flexible and team-oriented blacksmith your data center with customer data? Possibly. Probably when things get serious, but then not. Or only with a VERY long training period (train for skills). Even if the concept sounds good in principle.

How is this attitude tested in practice?

Assume that you have actually defined differentiating values, competencies and attitudes. For example, because you are looking for employees with a digital mindset. Or someone you can use with great flexibility for project work in various roles. Then the big practical question arises as to how personality traits can be validly (!) Checked in the recruiting process that is traditionally based on application documents?

Please don't give me speech analysis software now! Blogger colleague Jo Diercks already has this completely for recruiting based on scientific findings "Knocked in the bin".

Effects of attitude on work results (success relationships?)

And even if you find clues in the recruitment process that give you the impression that they might indicate a certain attitude or motivation, more scientific facts will spit you in the soup.

Studies show that although motivation has a (minor) influence on the work performance shown, general skills correlate more strongly with job performance than motivation (Attitude).

So that's the construct "Hire for attitude, train for skills" so failed after all?

Conclusion on the question of the usefulness of Hire for attitude, train for skills

A purely skill-based matching of job requirements and applicant profile will not deliver optimal results because it would leave a large part of the applicant out. It is the same pure Switching to personality traits (Attitude) not very effective for the reasons given.

It is like so often. The synthesis takes place after thesis and antithesis. Exactly: Both Applicants' characteristics are important and should be included in the selection decision.

Are we not then exactly where we are today? After all, recruiters do not only check skills in isolation, nor only personality.

The answer is: yes and no!

The internalization of the principle "Hire for attitude, train for skills" is necessary in my opinion. Just not in this absoluteness. Possibly the emphasis should be more on the half-sentence "Train for Skills" lie.

In particular, moving away from Mr. and Mrs. Perfect Match is important because not everyone has lived this way yet.

Together with the idea that skills can also be trained or newly learned, it helps with modern recruiting.


On our own behalf: