CWS 3.0: December 7, 2011 - Vol. 3.35

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Heard on the Street: Hiring for Fit, Not Just Skills

“A quality hire is not just about the skills a candidate has to possess. It includes cultural fit with a company. Ideal candidates need to possess both. Many companies are just realizing that.”
— Shelly Smith, product marketing director at Kenexa, a recruitment process outsourcing firm

Companies have their own personality. People have theirs. And as in life, some personalities work well together. Others don’t. Does it really impact productivity? Yes. For example, if you are a laid back, creative individual and function well in a casual environment, then you won’t do well in an organization that is more militaristic in style, says Smith. “This individual wants to be a creative engine and deliver rather than just being told what to do.”

To avoid cultural clashes, which lead to loss of productivity, Kenexa’s employment branding group within the RPO division conducts surveys among its clients. “It’s proprietary to us. Basically what we’re doing is measuring 12 different archetypes." Employees within their clients answer questions like are they a joker, a ruler, or a caregiver, etc.. "We measure that and then we come out with strengths of the organization.”

The idea here is not to change the culture, just document it. And then convey to the organization what their culture is and what personality types fit in. In fact, typically Kenexa asks the company to describe its personality. “Then we’ll do the study. It’s been kind of eye-opening for some companies who think they’re one way and they come up with something else quite different,” says Smith.

The survey helps Kenexa verify the company culture. And then place the right people in the right business. So what’s the process for finding the right people for these jobs? That’s where recruitment marketing comes in. “We want to make sure we’re targeting the right people in the right spots.

"So if we’re looking for doctors for the Navy then we’re going to take a look at sites that those folks go to,” says Smith. Then the group creates career sites and ads to support that brand. Even within a culture, there are different personality types who have to work together. But they all have to support a particular culture. If they don’t jibe with the culture, there is turnover, which creates problems and is costly.

Given the recession, this topic has attracted a lot of attention. Companies are wary about whom they bring on. Turnover brings with it loss of time, productivity and morale all of which are bad for the bottom line. And despite the high unemployment rate, certain skill sets are experiencing a talent shortage. Good people are hard to find. “So companies want to make sure the person they hire not only has the skills and talent, but they’re also going to mesh with the other team members. I don’t think that always comes through in an interview,” says Smith.

Candidates and firms alike should tread carefully. “Buyers (of staffing services) should understand what their culture is and who they are attracting. Candidates on their part need to be picky,” says Smith. Both win if there’s a good match.

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