Why Hiring for "Skills" Sucks

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Scenario: "Dude, we need to hire somebody with a masters degree in computer engineering from a top 10 school, 5 years of Java experience, 5 years of managerial skills, and 5 years of blah-blah skills. We hire only the best. Yay!" That's one of the biggest misconceptions that bankrupts start-ups, kills company morale, and keeps managers awake thinking: "Did I really hire the right person?"

But, who can blame them?

"Hire on skills!" the business-pseudo-expert crowd screams. "You want experienced people!" those suckas exclaim. "Steal those industry superstars!" they tell you. Conventional wisdom says the "best" people are the most "skillful." But, since you're a badass businessperson, you know that conventional wisdom sucks. If you want the recruit the "best" people, forget skills: recruit for deliciously good, natural talent.

Why Hiring Employees Based on Skills Sucks

Log onto Craigslist, Monster, SimplyHired, or the plethora of other job boards. What do most companies want?

  • "In-depth product knowledge."
  • "5 years in implementing IT solutions."
  • "5-7 years in selling to C-level executives."
  • "Blah. Blah. Blah."

What's wrong with hiring people on ill skillz? Tha phat list, and we'll start with the most important:

  1. You ignore natural talents.

    You can't teach execution, teamwork, determination, passion, and natural smarts. Guess what turns blah companies into super-kick-ass-oh-my-gosh-no-they-didn't companies?
  2. It's expensive.

    For one thing, it's major overhead. And then, you're paying high prices for people who probably won't excel at your company. You're much better off with cheap and determined up-and-comers.
  3. You hire commodities.

    Skills are a dime-a-dozen. If you just need those skills, hire contractors and save on overhead.
  4. Most people lie on their resumes, anyway.

    Or, they severely embellish their "accolades." Five-years of selling lemonade as a kid? Make that "5-years of selling innovative solutions to Fortune 500 managers."
  5. You can teach "10 years of skills" in a couple of months.

    We live in the information age, after all. For instance, you can diagnose your sick self in two minutes; you can learn Warren Buffett's philosophy on corporate debt in two minutes; you how to cook Pecan Crusted Chicken Tenders in two minutes. Those "10 years" of skills? Overrated. We'll explain.

How to Teach "10 Years" of Skills in Months

"Dude, but this applicant has 10 years of programming experience. Ten years!" Skills from the first bulk of those years:

  1. is obsolete, or
  2. can be learned in a few minutes, days, weeks.

Thank technological advancements, survival-of-the-fittest innovation, millions of experiments, and Google. As for the last bulk? Use our sweet, juicy, and delicious secret sauce: Hold training boot camps.

How Training Boot Camp Rocks

Say, you're looking for another crazy-good chef for your Italian restaurant. So here's what you'd do:

  1. Hire somebody who (1) can't settle for anything but excellence, (2) executes like-all-the-time, (3) perseveres like a mofo, and (4) holds the same values as your best people.
  2. Get them cooking as many meals in as little time as freakishly possible. (e.g. multi-course meals in an hour, 5-10 per day, 4-6 months; Iron-Chef-the-shizzle out of 'em)
  3. Congratulate your company. You just got yourself a crazy-good chef.

Remember: The people who kick more ass put in more hours. You can have ten years of cooking experience, but if Johnny has more hours under his belt cooking multi-course meals -- and only doing it for six months -- he'll kick your ass. (e.g. A rule of thumb: A kick-ass free-throw shooter shoots more free-throws. A kick-ass programmer develops more applications. A kick-ass developer builds more houses.)

"But dude! We have no knowledge in ________. We need somebody with experience. Yay!"

If you're only looking for skills or experience, consultants with proven track records are your best friends.

  • Need help developing a full-fledged sales team? Check.
  • Need help growing revenues to 7-figures? Check.
  • Need help managing cash flow? Check.
  • Need help with your first acquisition? Check.

(Quick Tip: Treat the consultant as a C-level executive than an ordinary consultant. You'll get a much bigger bang for your buck, and you'll also create a pseudo-partner. That's priceless. Trust us.) And besides, paying that relatively small consultant bill looks much better than paying the pesky high five/six-figure salary for somebody who might not work out anyway. That limits your risk, and keeps your cash flow sexy. Save that cash to develop your young guns and whatever else you need to rock your business. The moral:

Hire on talents. Then train, super-viciously.

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Posted on November 15

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