Job search – mindset over skill set does not cut it

By Scot Herrick | Cube Rules Commentary

Jun 20

In a job search, you sometimes just have to laugh at management philosophy about the person they want to hire compared to the process by which they actually hire a person.

Take this one for example:

A resounding 96 percent of employers say they would prefer to “hire, promote, pay and retain” people with a particular mindset over a desired skill set. And 98 percent of employers thought it more likely that a person with the right mindset could easily develop the right skill set if they had to, rather than the other way around.

You see that? Your attitude needs to be great to get hired. Your attitude allows you to learn the “right skill set” over someone who just has the skill set.

Great in theory. Here’s how the process actually works:

Job descriptions require every skill set known to humanity for the job

Have you looked at job descriptions lately? You’d think you’d need a genius just to do janitorial work. The list of skill sets is long, the requirements worse, and the soft skills needed off the chart.

Now, that’s not to complain too much about job skills — many jobs need a lot of skills. But, seriously? All those skills since the abacus? COBOL included?

And note the biggest missing element for those who tout the need for a particular mindset over a desired skill set: The mindset part of the job description is two sentences long while the job skills needed is two pages long. If mind-set is what you are looking for because it is what you need in an employee, why is mindset an after-thought on your job description?

Phone interviews are culled from resumes that meet the…job skills

See the technology search engine. See the job description. Insert job skills needed for the job into the search engine. See the search engine spit back hundreds of resumes that meet the job skills. Watch the recruiter review the resumes (in ten seconds or less) to find candidates with job skills to call for a phone interview.

Mind set is in there somewhere, I know it is. Because that’s what management wants, right? A mindset that can trump skill sets.

Except no one recruits based on mind sets; no, recruitment is done by having the right skill sets to prove that you can do the job. A mindset is simply a bonus that happens sometime later — if at all.

Does your management team want candidates with a particular mindset? If so, go ask your recruiters how they select candidates to interview to send on to hiring managers. When you get that answer, change how they recruit, because that’s not how selecting candidates work.

Here’s the real deal: you’ll never get to an interview to show your mindset if you don’t have the job skills.

  • So true, I ran into this horrible inconsistency while job searching in 2009. It’s almost as if candidates are being asked to whitewash a fence with black paint.

  • Justfactsster says:

    Amen on that lack of on the job training!  Unfortunately, I don’t care what skills you have, you still need training on company policies and procedures.  As I’ve bounced from job to job these past few years, due to the economy, ANY on the job training seems to be a thing of the past.  Trying to discover each businesses’ procedures and policies is like tooth extraction with no drugs.  From what I’ve experienced, business in this country is a chaotic mess, and truly, management doesn’t want to spend 5 minutes telling the employees how they want things done.  It seems the goal is simply that everybody is busy, productive work or not.

    • Scot Herrick says:

      Unfortunately, this is more the norm. If you have job skills, it would be nice to get an overview of the company, department, and how it works to give you context to your work.

      You will have to ask you manager. You might not get an answer. But getting a culture answer on how the place operates is important and getting it is necessary.

      Good extension of the conversation; thanks.

  • >