Is attitude more important than skills?

Recruiters have long focused on the tangible skills an employee can bring to an organisation. Personality and other character traits are often overlooked in favour of whether a candidate can bring the technical skills the employer needs.

However, there may be a shift in focus this year, as employers are looking at the learning mentality a candidate displays. According to Nick Deligiannis, managing director of Hays in Australia and New Zealand, the ability to learn represents the “next battleground in the war for talent”.

“Employers are starting to prioritise learning aptitude, in some cases over the technical skills and experience required in suitable candidates,” he said in a January 21 statement.

“It's not just about finding the right skills and experience and matching cultural fit anymore. Today the ideal candidate also has a desire to learn and the aptitude to do so.”

Mr Deligiannis explained that this approach was especially important in light of today's rapidly evolving world, as successful employees need to demonstrate the ability to continuously learn and adapt to changes.

This means organisations will have to tweak their recruitment strategies, he said. Gone are the days of assessing candidates solely on their skill sets – instead, recruiters now have to add “soft” skills such as learning aptitude into the mix.

It can be a challenge to determine whether a candidate possesses such aptitude or not, but fortunately there are a range of tools available nowadays that can aid in the selection process.

Recruiters can make use of candidate profiling assessments, for example, that look above and beyond the mere skills they list on their resume. These assessments tap into the inner workings of candidates to assess a variety of measures, such as their willingness to learn and their likely fit with the company.

“In today's workplace, change is the only constant,” says Hogan's VP of Innovation, Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic.

“In order to succeed, professionals need to continually update their skills. Fortunately, learning aptitude and other soft skills are not only measurable, but coachable using personality assessments.”