The great hiring debate: Skill set vs. cultural fit

When it comes to hiring for skill set or cultural fit, is it possible to have your cake and eat it too?

In a perfect world, not only would job candidates have resumes that boast all of the necessary skills for a position, but their personality would also weave seamlessly into the cultural fabric of your organization.

Unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect world and, more often than not, we are faced with the decision between hiring a candidate that matches either the desired skill set or our culture. So, which one is more valuable?

Skill vs. Culture

Compared to cultural fit, skill set is easier to define and identify. Most, if not all, of a candidate’s resume is dedicated to showcasing skills and work-related accomplishments. These skills, or lack thereof, listed on a resume can make or break a recruiter’s decision about a candidate in as little as six seconds.

Not only will the absence of certain skills and qualifications work against the candidate, but the presence of personal information (things that may indicate whether the candidate would be a good cultural fit) could too. According to Monster’s “Common Resume Blunders,” listing irrelevant information, such as personal interests that are unrelated to the job, is one of the top 10 things to avoid when crafting a resume.

So does skill set trump cultural fit? Not exactly.

A candidate with great skills will require less on-the-job training, however, a candidate with great cultural fit possesses something that is often times untrainable – the embodiment of your organization’s values and the ability to mesh with the team.

In fact, teams that work well together are proven to be more successful than those that don’t. According to ClearCompany, 86% of employees and executives cite lack of collaboration or ineffective communication for workplace failures and 97% of employees and executives believe the lack of alignment within a team impacts the outcome of a task or project.

Most of us won’t be lucky enough to find a candidate that perfectly aligns with our organizational culture and has all of the desired skills and qualifications. Just remember – each employee is an investment in your company. With a little time and training, an employee who initially lacked certain abilities, but fit in perfectly with the organization, can flourish into a skilled team member.

Looks like you can have your cake and eat it too!

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