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Cultural fit vs technical skills: broaden the net

3 September 2008

Cultural fit versus technical skills: broaden the net

Inflexible technical requirements prevent many employers from securing ideal staff, says specialist recruiter Hays.

Rather than maintaining such stringent technical skill prerequisites, Hays says employers could also consider the cultural fit of a potential employee – in other words, a candidate’s fit with the existing team, affinity with the company’s values and way it does business and their potential in order to open a vacancy to a wider pool of suitable candidates.

“Many of the technical skills required for roles, particularly for entry-level roles, can be taught,” says Jason Walker, Managing Director of Hays in New Zealand. “For example, previous experience with a particular computer package or typing speed can be learnt. Many roles at the mid to senior levels require particular industry experience, but again the unique characteristics of a particular industry can be taught and should not prevent the employment of a candidate who is otherwise the most suitable person for the role, has solid experience, suits the company, and who can become a highly valued asset with a little technical training.

“Communication, initiative and level of ambition along with other soft skills applicable to the role - such as integrity, ability to participate as part of a team, customer service skills or ability to take project responsibility - are all good indications of how a candidate is likely to succeed in a role and fit in with the business culture,” says Jason.

“The search for the perfect candidate will always exist, however if employers recognise how to determine those candidates that will suit all aspects of the role, not just those with the correct technical skills, they are more likely to recruit and retain the best skills for their particular business.”

If you are looking for a new role, Hays advise you determine the type of organisation that would be the best cultural fit for you:

• Consider what type of environment you would work best in – for example, one focusing on teamwork or one where you work autonomously.

• Determine what motivates you to be successful in a role – is it salary, hours worked, location or the chance to meet and exceed targets?

• Know what you want to gain from your employment – for example, develop particular skills or progress your career in a certain area.

“Once you have identified these, you can then look for an organisation that provides the best fit for you,” says Jason. “Your recruitment agency will discuss with you the type of culture an organisation has and help you determine if it’s a suitable fit for you. Then during your job interview, you can demonstrate your affinity with the culture of the organisation through examples of your previous work. For example, if teamwork is important to an organisation, answer questions with examples that demonstrate successful results when you worked as part of a team.”

Hays has five specialist recruitment offices across New Zealand in Auckland, South Auckland, Auckland North Shore, Christchurch and Wellington.


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