- May 13th, 2014
When seeking new employees, most companies will be hoping to find the most skilled and talented individuals out there; individuals who also have a great attitude. A motivated, bright, and talented employee possessing all the appropriate high-level skills is the ultimate package, and is an extremely likely candidate to get hired. But more often, it can be difficult to find one individual who “has it all”, and instead one element outweighs the other. Many recruitment agencies and hiring managers firmly believe that you should recruit for attitude and train for skill. Let’s take a look at what this means.
Are Skill and Talent the Same Thing?
Depending on your point of view, skill and talent are closely related. An employee who is excellent at their job may be deemed “very talented”, but is this innate talent? Or have they learned and developed skills over many years in the workplace?
The distinction can be made by looking at talent as an individual’s potential. Talent is the ability of a person to become great at something. Talented people can acquire skills and will usually do so rapidly and effectively, moreso than people who are less inherently talented. But those with less natural talent can still become extremely skilled with serious application and a devotion to working hard to gain these skills. This may be the root of the argument.
So What Does Attitude Have to Do With It?
Following the argument to hire for attitude and train for skill, it would seem that talent, whether innate or not, should not be a factor in the hiring process. According to this ideology, the best potential candidate is the one who possesses the best attitude. Attitude could include demeanor, personality, outlook on life, level of work ethic, passion, and ambition. The argument we’re discussing would mean that a positive, go-getter type of person who has an excellent, can-do attitude, though few skills, would be essentially a better candidate for an available position. Is this true? Or is the preferred candidate an experienced worker who is highly skilled in areas the position requires, obviously very talented, but doesn’t seem to be a motivated person and doesn’t have the best attitude? Proponents of the recruit for attitude argument would say no. And in fact, they might even suggest that the former individual, because of their attitude, is actually more talented (in terms of potential) than the latter.
Can Talent Be Taught?
Those in line with the argument to recruit for attitude might believe attitude to be the single most influential factor for a good employee to have. This would mean that talent and skill are elements that can be taught. A prospect with a winning attitude will be more dedicated to the learning process, and will therefore push themselves to gain skills. Hard work, in this regard, is just as important as talent. But the terms get muddled again, because isn’t quick uptake of skills potentially labelled “talent”? Possibly. While the terms at times become interchangeable, depending on their use, the argument of many hiring managers is that attitude is the top priority. Talent, whether innately present or not, can absolutely be taught to those who are ready to work for it.