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Recruit for Skill, Hire for Fit

Even in a job market where workers hold much of the power, employers must remain committed to hiring talent that fits their culture.

A man in a suit and tie.

​In today’s ultra-competitive labor market, organizations are actively pursuing talent to keep up with what has become known as the Great Resignation. We have seen workers’ expectations shift dramatically since the onset of the pandemic, as the cover story for the winter issue of HR Magazine examines. It really has become an employees’ market, where workers wield more influence than we’ve ever seen. And with hiring demand surging, we’ve witnessed accelerated wage inflation. Yet despite these trends, employers must maintain their commitment to selectively hiring new talent.

As always, organizations need to solve for their skills gaps. The talent they seek must be able to fulfill their needs. It starts with identifying people with the right acumen to perform the work required. Indeed, business is at a point where the need for human capital has surpassed the need for financial capital. Human capital isn’t homogeneous. Finding the right talent requires sifting through a broad spectrum of individual skill sets, experiences and characteristics to find people best suited for the work and the workplace. 

In the pursuit of talent, organizations should not lose sight of their identities. Workplace culture should be factored into organizations’ recruiting and hiring decisions. While organizational objectives outline what you want to get done, culture defines how you get it done. Workplace culture is essentially how you operate, interact and collaborate to accomplish those objectives.

The people you onboard, engage and equip will be the stewards of your workplace, which is why you must find people who align with your unique culture. Certainly, acumen acts as the base line for evaluating candidates, but hiring for cultural alignment is critical. When you hire talent that doesn’t fit, you risk having workers who don’t fully engage in their work because they oppose corporate philosophy or don’t agree with how you operate. As a result, your employee morale, performance and retention suffer. 

Organizations can’t be all things to all people. Now more than ever, employers should appeal to the right people, not all people. Too often, candidates and employers portray lofty ideals and platitudes that have little to no basis in reality. Neither party deserves to be blindsided after the first week of work. It becomes an uphill battle trying to solicit buy-in from employees who don’t embody your workplace culture. 

Instead, set realistic expectations about what candidates can anticipate in the role. When you dare to tell the truth in interviews, you allow candidates to buy in at the door. HR and people managers should be adept at asking pointed questions to reveal who a candidate is. Hiring people who personify your culture fosters a committed and engaged workforce. 

Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., SHRM-SCP, is president and CEO of the Society for Human Resource Management.

Photograph by Cade Martin for HR Magazine.


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