Hire for passion and not just skills

Hire for Passion

Let me start with an assumption that most people reading this would have faced some sort of job interview in their life, unless you are a born entrepreneur who never had to look for a role in his life. I will share two similar experiences that I heard about recently.

And they tell you,”You are good, but you don’t have enough skills in xyz.”

An experienced professional gets approached by a consultancy firm director looking to fill in a role for one of the client projects. There is an initial alignment, followed by a face to face interview, where matter looked affirming followed by a couple of days of silence. Then the professional receives the long awaited call, “blah, blah, blah, discussed … blah, blah, blah, considered blah, blah, blah, you are strong on x and y but not so strong on ZZZ and that is where we wanted some more experience. Thanks, keep in touch.”

The same professional gets put up for another role at a major Bank through another consulting company. This time immediate feedback from the client was, “He resume seems strong and previously he has appeared for interviews for even more senior roles. This role is a bit junior compared to the previous roles he has applied for. Thanks but no thanks for now.”

OK, I might have over simplified the conversation, but the gist remains the same. You may have heard or experienced similar stories yourself. If you are experienced, trust me, I know it is painful. How does it feel when you know in your head that you are more than capable of doing the roles. But, you need a chance for proving that. You need a chance for proving that although you do not have enough experience on ‘z’, with your curious nature and a desire to learn and adapt, you can pick up the skills on the fly and apply it effectively. That is what consultants do!

No project will be exactly identical and the challenges of one project might be slightly different than the next. Solution that worked for project A might not work exactly the same for project B. Why don’t the recruiters/interviewers focus on an individual’s passion for their work, work ethic and the zeal to learn and adapt? Why is the focus solely on black and white words printed on the resume vs. what more can a individual achieve provided a chance? Why not provide a chance to talk and demonstrate on what value can the individual really add to the project at hand and how he/she would go about solving the real problems at hand! Can someone teach me to demonstrate “passion”, “persistence”, “adaptability” and “willingness to learn and learn quickly” on a piece of paper. I know it becomes easy and if you are sharp observer to identify these traits when you meet someone in person.

I agree with the graphic above, and skills are overrated. An individual can achieve more when they have more passion and some skills. I have seen a person going from a call centre job, to a training consultant to a BA role all in one year. I have coached an individual from a sales lead generator to becoming a junior instructional designer in 6 months and in 2 years time the same individual is leading a team of 2 junior instructional designers in a mid sized company. These people did not have any skills in their chosen field to begin with but they have a lot of passion to learn and move forward. I am sure, if you think for 30 seconds, you can find enough examples around you or even in your ownself!

When an entrepreneur starts up a business, they don’t have all the skills but they have passion to figure out things on the fly as necessary. When businesses – big and small bring out new products, most likely they don’t have everything figured out. They may not even all skills in all area. But what they have most times is passionate people driving the change and those people learn and adapt on the fly. Businesses have their goals on getting to their own “moon” or the “mars”. I don’t think you can get on Mars just based on your skills, but you need people who are passionate and are persistent.

Enough said! If you are a recruiter, can you explain? If you are a hiring manager, can you explain the rationale of rejecting people just on the base of their resumes? What’s your experience when you have a skilled person who just hates coming to work everyday? What’s your milage when you deal with an individual who is passionate about his work and has a zeal to learn and fill the skill set gap by showing up everyday and putting in 110%? Who do you think will perform better? No wait, I can answer that. The person who achieves more and adds more value is the person who loves coming to work everyday.

Oh, and the poor person who’s experiences I have shared above is none other than me. But surely, the above scenarios are not just mine – 1000s of individuals experience this everyday.