In The Long Run Soft Skills Always Trump Hard Skills

Two IT managers need to make a hire.  Both are looking for a developer with three to five years experience coding in the current hot programming language.

One manager focuses on hard skills – he wants someone with this difficult to find skill who will be productive as soon as they are hired.  The manager hires a search firm and after six months finds the “ideal” person but needs to pay $100,000 and a $30,000 search fee.  The new hire, though technically sound is an okay culture fit and contributes shortly after being hired. Two years later, the difficult to find, “ideal” hire leaves the organization relieving the manager of a departmental headache.   That’s okay because the once coveted skill set is now obsolete.

The other manager within one month hires a person from a LinkedIn ad with little experience but who’s smart, energetic, and a great culture fit.  He pays the new hire $65,000 and trains them for six months.  Seven months after being hired, the same timeframe as the other manager, the employee is contributing.  Two years later this hire is a key member of the team and a superstar programmer adapting to new technologies and continuously honing their skills.

From the time they started their search, it took both managers seven months for their new hire to be productive.  Yet the manager focusing on the soft skills paid much less, found a better match, and still has a high-potential working for them.  Unfortunately, most hiring managers fall into the trap of hiring for hard skills.

Empower your hiring managers to hire for soft skills and you will be more successful in the long run.

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