Should You Hire for Talent or Need?

If you’re an NFL draft junkie, you know teams face a perennial question: Do you choose the best available player—no matter the position—or do you select a prospect who fills the organization’s greatest offensive or defensive need? Well, a similar question confronts AE and environmental firms when hiring: Should you choose the most-talented candidate or the one who most closely aligns to your job description’s stated needs? Firms that hire for their greatest need will have to perform comprehensive assessments of the strengths and weaknesses of their current staff to identify talent gaps. While firms hiring for need generally want plug-and-play employees, there’s a danger of rigidly sticking to the years of experience, academic credentials, and technical skills listed in the job description. Not only can skills, such as proficiency with a certain software package, become obsolete in quick order, but a company’s strategy could also change like an NFL team switching from a run-first to a pass-happy offensive scheme. Firms adopting the philosophy to hire the most-talented prospects with plans to “coach them up” are more adaptable and broaden the candidate pool beyond the finite number of applicants who fulfill all the specific criteria listed in a job description. These firms, however, need to have robust training programs in place to bolster the specific skills lacking in new hires. Interviews also need to be structured to determine a candidate’s coachability, motivation, intelligence, flexibility, and cultural fit. Professional skills can be trained; personal traits cannot.

Will Inflation Curb the Great Resignation?

With inflation at a 40-year high and chatter of a looming recession growing, will workers become more reluctant to jump ship? There are no signs of that happening yet. In fact, the rising cost of living might have the opposite effect. The labor market remained as tight as ever in March with a record 11.5 million job openings and 4.5 million workers quitting or changing positions. Most of those leaving their jobs are not dropping out of the workforce but switching to higher-paying positions, which is why economist Arindrajit Dube suggests the “Great Resignation” should instead be called the “Great Reshuffling.” Studies have shown that job-hoppers receive greater wage increases than workers who remain with their employers. A February survey by the Conference Board found that 29% of professionals who changed jobs during the pandemic increased their salaries by an astounding 30% or more. With 62% of workers surveyed by the Conference Board reporting concerns about salaries keeping pace with inflation, more workers may be lured away from their jobs by double-digit percentage pay bumps to ensure that their real wages continue to grow. While the Great Resignation has produced its greatest churn among lower-wage service workers, CNBC reported in April that it “could be spreading to new sectors where even middle-and high-wage workers are seeking big raises to ease the sting of inflation.”

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