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it’s a case of hire for technical ability, which is more often than not evidenced by the old faithful (and arguably outdated) CV – a shopping list of what people do and a ‘tool’ that has now lasted over five centuries.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

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I wouldn’t classify myself as an expert in recruitment by any stretch of any imagination – but after being a manager in a large corporate for over 15 years and then running my own start up, I have in my time been exposed to a fair level of to-ing and fro-ing from a staffing and recruitment perspective.

I suppose the biggest eye-opener was when I transitioned from the large corporate to staffing my “own” business.

As part of a corporate machine the process is pre-defined and the outcome pre-destined – it is going to take you an age to find someone. Every step of the way is slowed by a necessary and different process step. The job description had to follow a certain form, contain specific sections and then be submitted to the internal approval process. Once this oft-cyclical process has completed you are given a job reference and the post is submitted to be loaded to the corporate website (which in itself could take a number of days). Then begins the candidate identification process! All checks and procedures don’t vet the candidate for technical, professional or personal fit – just that all the boxes are ticked.

By the time we have gotten to the interview stage based on a set of very sterile CVs that are very formulaic – I had mostly a) lost the will to live b) forgotten what job role we were recruiting for and c) mostly wanted someone else because of the more recent (and pressing) crisis.

HR policy made sure that the interview process was fair and equitable – so there were many guidelines to follow and ensure were not broken.

It was hard going but to be fair – at the end of it all the machine turned out another corporate body to be added to the roster. You were never going to get Stephen Hawking to join your team but you conversely wouldn’t end up with an idiot either. The process made it safe.

When I left all that behind for the grass that was greener “on my own terms” I then found out what recruitment in the “open market” was all about. Typically – a lot of time spent trawling through pointless CVs that despite providing a job description to the agency for with a sliding scale of pre-requisites, seemed to have become optional during the vetting process. I felt that for the pleasure of paying 20% it was perceived that I would be impressed by the sheer volume of candidates shoved down my throat in the hope that I would submit to tsunami of information and just pick one…

There were some exceptions to this rule with some agencies who wanted to take the personal and exclusive approach of sitting with us to “understand in depth what the role was, how we rolled as a company and then insisted on a very structured interview process that they were involved with.

I appreciate the effort – but the net effect of both approaches was the same – it burgled a lot of time to trawl though a very random and varied set of candidates, and finding the “one” was hard. There had to be a better way…

Once in front of us – after my corporate experiences I wanted a far more informal approach to the interview with the candidates. There had to be the right level of technical rigour (i.e. can they do what they say they can) but that said – the single most important trait of the successful employee was to fit in, be part of the collective. In a small team (we were no more than 25) everyone had an important role to fill but also had to contribute to the overall morale and mood of the team. In small companies – enthusiasm, desire and commitment are far stronger than many qualifications. Having the right chemistry is vital. I am not suggesting taking them down the pub for an interview – well, maybe I am. Just make sure that you are 100% sure that the person you are talking to is someone you are happy to share a large part of your life with.

You don’t interview your partner, friends or family. Some of these you acquire but most of them you pick after spending time with them. Why not do the same with your workforce? Instead of spending time with agenices or scouring CVs for those golden nuggets – spend more time with the people who might work with you and less on the process.

Use technology to help you not bind you to a process. Mumbu builds professional and social profiles to help you better choose who to speak to without mind-numbing trawling of CVs so you have a more rounded view of who to speak to and get the right person onboard more quickly.

 

kenny milliner

 

kenny@mumbu.com

@kennymilliner

Looking for work in all the wrong places

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I was looking for a new job on and off for about 6 months, searching through job boards and going through recruitment agencies. We’ve all been there; the process of searching for jobs is (was) hard work and often sole destroying, not to mention writing a CV that will stand out and really sell you.

Getting 2/3 calls a day about jobs that you aren’t right for or are in completely the wrong location just starts to get laborious. You might find out about a job that really interested you and then never heard anything about it again.

There is always an element of not feeling in control of the situation or in charge of your own destiny.

Then I found Mumbu, it was a refreshing change, from adding my profile to the website and really being able to show a bit about myself and my personality. What motivated me, what I was reading, my favourite quote, song and my claim to fame. Not a CV in sight. Of course they still hold the important details too like qualifications, but you could also state when you were available to work on a daily basis. The whole process was just more flexible. The beauty too was that I didn’t have the prospect of transferring my CV over to company websites over and over again and writing different covering letters. So I filled in my profile, published and had a look at what companies were on offer.

Within no time I was connected to a company and we had had a low key conversation about what they were really looking for rather than a job spec, to see if this was something I would be interested in.

I arranged to meet with the MD and his assistant to talk further and I guess the rest is history. I am really enjoying working in a job where no 2 days are the same and I never quite sure what I will be doing next.

Rebecca Howard

Marketing Specialist at The Client Voice

10 years out of work

How did that happen? How did 10 years pass without me stepping foot into an office? Is the fact that I’ve spent the last 10 years raising two kids and moving house no less than seven times in a quest to renovate three different houses enough of an excuse to not have done any paid employment? Or, is it enough that I wrote the marketing plan for my husband’s new venture (a rucksack designed for the cycling commuter that is now selling slowly but surely online – http://www.slicks.com, in case you’re interested) and secured the best piece of PR coverage based on my nervous phone call to one of the writers at the London Evening Standard? But paid employment? No, None.

So, finally the kids are both at school and I have a little time to think. I want to work but only part-time. I still want to be able to see my children in their various performances at school (nothing thrills me more than seeing the top of my son’s head at the back of the choir, not knowing whether he is actually bothering to join in whilst little Johnny in front of him is not only singing his heart out but also displaying some real professional jazz hands). I’d really miss not seeing my daughter in her weekly hockey matches looking more like the coach than a member of the team as she manages to run from one end of the pitch to the other without making any contact with the ball. So, I know that any work I do will need to be flexible as well as part-time. Is this too much to ask?

Well, it shouldn’t be. Currently 97% of businesses in the UK are defined as SMEs, employing x number of employees or less. Surely not all of them need a team of full-time marketing professionals (which I can still justifiably call myself – I do have a post-graduate marketing qualification) and surely a large percentage of businesses nearby could do with marketing help on a smaller, part-time basis. It sounds like the perfect opportunity for me. The only problem is how to meet the local businesses?

This is where Mumbu comes in. Mumbu is a new online recruitment website that introduces local people to local businesses without the need of a recruiter. It focuses on small businesses and understands that the most important element of the recruitment process is to employ someone who fits in with the rest of the team. It focuses on the individual rather than the CV. Of course it’s important what experience you have, but if you’re not going to fit into the culture of the business, then all the experience in the world is not going to make a successful placement. Mumbu facilitates this process and acts as a filter on personality as well as skills. Businesses who like the ‘look’ of a person ask to connect and if you choose to accept, the introduction is made.

So, I filled in all my details on Mumbu and didn’t have long to wait before a company wanted to connect to me. Ironically it was the owners of Mumbu. They wanted a little extra help with their marketing and, after a couple of phone calls, asked me to come and present my ideas to them. I now have my feet firmly under the Mumbu desk and am loving putting my previous experience to good use. My business confidence, which had disappeared many years ago under a pile of nappies, is now back – except when it comes to social media, which was hardly even invented when I was working last! So, it’s a ‘win win’ situation. Great for them and great for me….. and I still manage to get to school concerts and see the top of my gorgeous little boy’s head!

Liza

Killing the CV

Is it just me or does everyone hate writing a CV? There I’ve said it, I hate writing my CV, furthermore I hate reading them too. Okay hate is a strong word but ‘strongly dislike’ doesn’t quite cut it so I’m sticking with hate for now. Its not that the CV wasn’t a brilliant idea, after all Leonardo De Vinci wrote the first one in 1482 and who am I to argue with his intellect and unquestioned genius? However, I’m fairly certain that Leonardo himself would be quite disappointed with the ‘improvements’ made in the past 533 years or so.

There are those who believe the CV has changed ‘drastically’ over the past 500+ years and that it remains the single most critical component of the recruitment process. Well I’m sorry, I have to take issue with the evolution of the CV as it seems to me that not very much has changed at all. It’s still based around ‘the course of my life’ (literal translation of curriculum vitae) and the evolution that people talk about seems to be based on around how the CV is now delivered. Okay so Leonardo handed delivered his on a piece of parchment and now we can deliver CV’s via, fax, email, video and social media. All very clever of course but the basic structure of the CV in all of those forms remains the same; ‘the course of my life’ or somebody’s pitiful attempt to represent themselves on two sides of A4 or equivalent; and that is why I hate the CV, writing them, reading them, it doesn’t matter they are dull, dull, dull.

Looking for a new job or hiring the latest addition to your team should be an exciting process and yet the CV fails to deliver on all counts. It just doesn’t work. When I read a CV I want to see the person emerging from the page, the brilliance of their uniqueness that makes them who they are. But it never happens. What we are left with is a sterile version of what some CV specialist believes is the best way to write a CV – aaaaaarrrrrhhhhh! What a waste of time that is. I want the person.

I’m fairly confident that I’m not alone in thinking like this. We’ve all written a CV and how many of us can honestly claim that we are proud of it? I suspect not many. Of course our education, past achievements, interests, marital status and whether we have a full driving license are all very informative but dull, dull, dull. Again, where is the person?

When we finally get to meet that person for an interview, how many times is the best candidate on paper a disappointment in person? In fact, how many times has the least likely candidate (on paper) turned out to be the one with the best attitude and the one we like the most? Many business people a lot smarter than me have recognised this and most business bibles will talk about the importance of building your team. Whilst skills and abilities are at least as important as attitude in professional sport for example, this is not the case in business. Many skills can be acquired and attitude has a far greater weight, especially in smaller businesses where the impact of that person is more keenly felt.

Hire for attitude, train for skill.

Where is attitude in the CV? Where is the person? So if we accept that the
most important part of the recruitment process is not the CV but the person then why do we leave finding about what makes them tick until the end of the process? Because of the CV, that’s why. The CV does not give you the person, just a version of that person in a sanitised, 500 year old format.
So what’s the solution? Well for a start, we need to put more emphasis on the person. What they can do of course but equally who they are and even more importantly who they want to be. As an employer, I want every person we hire to have aspirations and ambitions, and feel as though at least some of those aspirations can be achieved when they come to work with us. I want to find out what type of person they are as early in the recruitment process as possible and I don’t think the CV does that very well.

So killing the CV is a great headline but I do genuinely mean it. It’s a way of creating stereotypes which is not a great way to find your next rising star. So lets kill it and make a change for the better. Sorry Leonardo but I’m confident you’d be on my side on this one – not that I could work that out from your CV of course.

Nick Garnett
CEO

Mumbu focuses on the most important factor – the individual. Putting people and business together in a simple, cost effective way. No CV’s, no middleman, just Mumbu.