A reminder by Katie Halpin from the past...

Back in 2002 as a young, freshly graduated, Recruitment Manager, I was once stood in a recruitment briefing meeting when I was working for "Waitrose"- part of the John Lewis Partnership.

I was part of a recruitment team building out a new concept Food & Home store opening with around 500 retail vacancies to fill in Cheltenham - a town with incredibly low unemployment at the time.

We were having to tell the Store Manager we couldn’t find the right staff - we couldn’t fill the vacancies.

It was then someone in the meeting suggested that we should “park” the job specs and instead of trying to find people who had the experience on the job spec, we should hire people with the right attitude and throw more effort into training these people once they were on-boarded.

Recruiting the right attitude

It worked and we opened the store with a full requirement of staff who were full of drive and energy and most importantly leading to some of the best sales numbers a store opening had even done!

It was then that the mantra “Recruit for Attitude, Train for Skill” became part of my recruitment sourcebook.

Fast forward to 2023, with the “tricky” jobs market and difficulty in finding the right people to hire and this phrase is proving it is not just a “catchy” phrase, but a blueprint for building resilient, adaptable and high-performing teams.

Embracing this approach can lead to a workforce that thrives amidst change, fosters innovation, and ultimately propels your organisation to new heights. It also ultimately means that vacancies get filled with individuals who have positive approaches as well as high levels of resilience which is especially crucial in industries that undergo rapid transformations.

A Travel Insurance business I worked with, recently adopted the "hire for attitude and train the skill" approach.

I worked closely with the Compliance Director and her team to hire 2x entry level compliance roles- we both knew this skillset was not in the local area so we compiled a list of “soft skills” we were looking for in the positions.

Career-focussed candidates

With these in mind I shortlisted people who I knew were focused on their career, had been in roles where high levels of customer satisfaction was key, where people had shown an interest in getting into a compliance role or currently studying in this area.

We recruited for attitude and the hiring manager put in a comprehensive and more detailed than normal training programme to be able to train the skill and we filled the roles with two fantastic people very quickly.

The next time you’re faced with a hiring decision, remember that attitude can be the spark that ignites success- skills can always be developed, but the right attitude is the foundation upon which greatness is built.