You have a position to fill in your company. The employee that is leaving has been with you for a long time and been a key asset in his area. Or perhaps it’s a project position for an important implementation that is going to require interaction with a wide variety of current staff and management. Finding the right person to fit your job requirement takes time, patience, energy, resources, and fortitude. However, none of these traits are in great supply at your company right now as you scramble to get someone in that spot.
Hiring an employee, whether contract or permanent, is more than just getting a body to fill a space. It’s also more than a check list of desired skills and degrees. It is about a relationship that will benefit both parties – the employee and the company.
Many companies go to recruiters or IT Consulting Services for assistance in gathering a selection of candidates, especially for contract positions. There are few organizations that work best when they not only know the key skills and job description for the position, but also the culture and overall mission of the company.
The attributes for hiring change with the role and job description. If you are hiring an administrative assistant, apart from academic and technical skills, you also need to look for soft skills such as the ability to prioritize and juggle between multiple tasks at hand, willingness to stretch that extra mile to accommodate critical requests and, more importantly, adopting to your ways of working. Some of these soft skills are common attributes across the board for other roles such as ‘Technologist’, ‘Project Manager’ etc. However, each role in an organization has specific, softer skill set requirements.
Laszlo Bock, a senior vice president of people operations for Google, one of the largest and most successful tech oriented companies around, was interviewed by Adam Bryant of The Times. In that interview, Bock discussed how Google looks for talent. While good grades and appropriate coursework certainly are helpful, Google looks at a broader picture of the individual and their abilities to contribute to the organization.
With so many technical positions, Google obviously looks for coding ability. According to Bock they also look for “general cognitive ability, and it’s not I.Q. It’s learning ability. It’s the ability to process on the fly. It’s the ability to pull together disparate bits of information.”
They also look for a leadership quality in their people. Not just to lead a team, but to understand the intricacies of being on a team – when to take the lead, and when to let others step into that task. A potential employee also has to have some modesty and embrace the better ideas other people may present. “Your end goal,” explained Bock, “is what we can do together to problem-solve. I’ve contributed my piece, and then I step back.”
Bock stated that Google doesn’t just look for expertise. He explained that if you hire someone with an innate curiosity, willing to learn, who has leadership potential but not strong content knowledge, and then compared them to an expert in the field who has been doing this one specific thing for their entire career, the expert might say they’ve seen this dozens of times and this is what you do. Bock added, “Most of the time the nonexpert will come up with the same answer because most of the time it’s not that hard.”
There are other key questions to ask for potential long or short term technical employees when looking for compatibility and expertise, especially if time is of the essence. Bock’s insights show there is an advantage to looking beyond just the specs of the job. A good internal or external recruiting team will help you verify references and background, affiliations, technical skill, vendor relationships, previous experience, and corporate cultural compatibility. They will also look for and assess those soft attributes, those hard to define qualities that can take an employee from someone who is just filling a spot to a strong, supportive asset to the business. Because that’s where the best fit may be.