Employer Insights

The Old 80/20 Rule

Kirsten Garrett Posted by Kirsten
min read
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It was always said that 80% of hires are based on skill, but 80% of fires are based on attitude or cultural fit to the business. I have conducted thousands of interviews over the last twenty years and one common thread still comes up in interviews on a weekly basis. It is the conversation about career progression into new industries, using new systems, or reporting according to new requirements. 

Candidates are more often than not looking for something new and challenging. They are keen to stretch themselves and learn new skills, gain exposure to new industries and similar. In fact, I had this very conversation in my first interview for the week today. Conversely, the employer usually provides a brief for us to find people with knowledge of their current systems, and with experience in the same or similar industry and who are able to make a lateral step into the role they are recruiting. 

The message seems to be most employers are looking for a neat fit into their business with people who can “hit the ground running” with minimal training.  In other words, employers are hiring for a fit for now rather than a fit for the future. And often, regardless of whether the candidate has strong communication and stakeholder engagement skills, a steady career to date, knowledge of a variety of systems and have proven the ability to pick up new skills in a timely manner, our clients stick to their list of hard skills. If the applicant doesn’t tick all of the ‘now’ boxes, then the employer simply dismisses them. 

However, at the other end of the timeline, when an employer dismisses an employee, it is usually because they don’t fit the business/team culture and has nothing to do with their skill set or experience.  All that energy and focus on ticking the skills and experience boxes means very little if the person is a terrible team fit, or cannot deal with change or is unable to communicate with key stakeholders. Should we not rethink how we view the recruitment process and approach it like a small minority of businesses do? Let’s focus on the behavioural capabilities which suit the position. While I am not suggesting we ignore technical skills and place a candle maker in the role of Financial Accountant, we should at least keep an open mind in terms of skills and experience.