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Oz employers 'looking for cultural fit over job skills'

Melbourne, Tue, 17 Apr 2012 ANI

Melbourne, Apr 17 (ANI): Employers across a wide range of industries in Australia are more keen on hiring candidates who culturally fit their organisation than those with the right skills, experts say.

The trend can be observed even in highly-skilled roles like project management, according to Hays recruitment firm director Nick Deligiannis.

"For most roles soft skills and cultural alignment is just as important - if not more important - than technical ability," quoted Deligiannis as saying.

"There's been a considerable push by employers to hire for a cultural fit."

While "cultural fit" can cover a range of skills, he insisted that employers were basically looking to align the candidate with the values of the company - be they an entrepreneurial attitude, the proper work-life balance, creativity or how they communicate with others.

"You can hire someone as a project manager for a big infrastructure project for example and a big portion of the success of that project will be how that person sells it throughout the business and communicates change," he said.

"If someone doesn't know how to get everyone on board to drive this change, they can be the most technically gifted person in the world, but if they can't get that part right it isn't going to be a success."

CEO of shoe company 'PeepToe' Sue Ellen Mackintosh-Dixon revealed that she ranks cultural fit higher than an exact skills match when it comes to hiring - and not just in roles like customer service and sales.

"If the person has the right attitude and they really want to be in your business - which is critical to a company's cultural success - the rest can be learned," Mackintosh-Dixon said.

She insisted that hiring solely on the basis of experience had come back to bite her in the past with great candidates on paper not working out.

"I have found that if the soft skills aren't there they rub people up the wrong way and it's a lot more damaging," she said.

"You don't get the best out of not just one person but everyone that person works with. They're disruptive and can become a poison ivy."

In his recent book, Hiring for Attitude, CEO of LeadershipIQ Mark Murphy mentioned that a lack of proper attitude, not skills, is the main contributor to weak performance and employee turnover.

According to his research of 20,000 new hires, 46 per cent of them failed within 18 months. More significantly when new hires failed, 89 per cent of the time it was for attitudinal reasons and just 11 per cent of the time because of lack of skill. (ANI)

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