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Are You Hiring for the Right Skills?

Are you experiencing high turnover in the jobs you fill? Does it take too long for your new hires to get up to speed? Do their supervisors complain about low morale, absenteeism, low productivity and costly mistakes that need to be corrected?

If you’ve been experiencing problems like those, you could be recruiting people with the wrong skills. The solution is to create a fresh inventory of the skills that are needed on the job and make them part of your screening process.

How to Assess the Real-World Skills Your Jobs Require

One effective way to define the skills that are needed to qualify candidates for your jobs is to have some in-depth conversations with the following people:

Your current top performers – Your very best employees who have “learned the ropes” can tell you a lot about what it takes to excel in their jobs – and any frustrations that stand in the way of doing their jobs even better. Ask them, “If you were hiring people to do what you do, what skills and strengths would you be looking for?”

Employees who you have recently hired to do the job – Don’t assume that because they are new, they won’t have anything important to tell you. In many cases, they are uniquely positioned to contribute fresh insights and perspectives. Ask them, “What were the first things you needed to learn to do on the job? What are you finding most difficult?” Their answers will help you refine your hiring criteria.

Employees who have quit – In exit interviews, gather all the information you can about how they did their jobs. Ask them, “Is there something about this job that makes it difficult? Are there certain skills that we could have taught you in training that would have helped you do the job?”

Managers who supervise the people you hire – They can give you essential information about what people really do on the job, where current employees lack critical skills, and more. Ask them, “Could you write a job listing for these jobs and give it with me?” Compare the job listing they create to the one you have been using.

People who are counting on your hires to do their jobs well – These external stakeholders can offer insights that you will not hear from anyone else. Will they need the people you are hiring to enter data into your company database, process orders quickly, estimate costs correctly, or perform other critical functions? If so, consider whether the skills they cite should be part of the job requirements.

Remember that Job Content is Not Static

Over time, jobs evolve and demand new skills and aptitudes. If you can stay attuned to those changes, the result will be better hires.

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