Hire for attitude, train for skill

There’s no doubt about it. Finding the right person to fill a role is a constant challenge for small to medium sized businesses, particularly in environments where there are fewer people responsible for producing more work.

The solution? Well, tradition dictates that it’s a case of hire for technical ability, which is more often than not evidenced by the old faithful (and arguably outdated) CV – a shopping list of what people do and a ‘tool’ that has now lasted over five centuries.

The idea behind this is simple and, to a degree, even logical: hire people on what they know. However, hiring people on what they know often comes at the expense of who they are. What has become an obsession with technical ability over a person’s attitude is, from my perspective at least, not only misplaced but also at the very opposite end of the spectrum to where it should be.

The current approach to recruitment is roughly made up of a 90/10 split, with the 90 relating to skillset and the 10 relating to the person. I believe that for SMEs to get the most from their recruitment programme this needs to be reversed, with the 90 being about the person, who they are and what are they like as individuals; the 10 being a focus on skillset.

For small businesses, attitude is everything. Yes, technical competence and ability is also very important, however people can be trained to become more competent and skillful. Rewiring the very core of a person is a completely different ball game.

And, on the subject of ball games, a close friend of mine, who also happens to be a Premier League football manager, would also agree. I had come to the conclusion that the only exception to the ‘hire for attitude, train for skill’ rule was elite /professional sports. After all, you’re either born with the ability to attain the skills required to become a professional footballer or you’re not. He pointed out to me that attitude still outpoints skills when it comes to building a successful team, even recounting a time when he selected someone with less ability over someone who displayed technical brilliance on the basis that they had a better attitude.

Similarly, in my personal experience the person with a second-class honours degree from the polytechnic of old shouldn’t be automatically written off when compared with a first class honours graduate from Oxford. Yes, academic ability and skills are important but employability factors, often determined by a person’s social skills or character, are extremely important, too. And, as we all know, there is no correlation between the two.

The fact that I’m a firm believer in attitude over skill is undoubtedly one of the driving factors behind MUMBU, an online social platform that focuses on what should be the most important element of any successful hiring strategy – the person.  MUMBU goes one step further because it is designed specifically for mums, who due to career breaks may not happen to have the relevant, up-to-date skill set but most definitely have the character and dedication which an employer is looking for.

MUMBU provides a platform for businesses to see beyond the one dimension afforded by the CV. It also provides talented and skillful mums with the ability to showcase themselves as individuals rather than simply list what they have done. We believe that this could revolutionise the way in which businesses recruit.

Sign up and take a look. You’ll be able to see that rather than focus purely on technical skills, we invite mums to share their hidden talents, unfulfilled ambitions or the book they’re currently reading. We want skilled mums to be able to express more than is socially or conventionally possible in a CV. Likewise, we want businesses to see beyond the black type on two sheets of A4 (again, another convention that in the main we follow without even questioning why) and actually get a good feel for a person before they’ve actually met.

Why? Because it will help businesses avoid making bad recruitment decisions. It will help businesses get it right first time. It will also help businesses save money in wasted recruitment costs and the time required to fill the position for second, third or even fourth time. Regardless of whether you’re a business owner looking to make your next hire or an individual looking for work, MUMBU is all about people.

As Winston Churchill once said, “attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.” Whilst we agree with the ‘big difference’ part, we believe that attitude is a big thing and we’re confident that MUMBU will play a role in helping businesses to recognise this.

Nick Garnett – Founder, MUMBU

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