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Why hiring personality over experience can be the best thing for your business

“Hard work spotlights the character of people: some turn up their sleeves, some turn up their noses, and some don’t turn up at all.” Sam Ewig

Running a business for over 20 years provides a wide ranging perspective on hiring, firing and the movement of people.  We’ve seen all levels of skill, experience and commitment; good team players, poor team players, low performers, those demonstrating the height of excellence and integrity, skilled but indifferent, emotional and highly strung, quiet and introverted, offhand, old, young, those with differing racial backgrounds and those that are well – right out of the box.

The hiring cycle has remained unchanged in a world that is constantly changing and no-one seems to have found the permanent magic formula for recruiting or retention success. But, what has changed is the way skills are viewed and sought after.

Why? Because the world and its industries are changing at such a rate of knots, often education and experience simply cannot adapt in time.

Today, it is more about breaking the rules rather than conforming to past expectations or ways of doing things.

Alongside this, the expectations and demands of employees are changing. This is creating a cultural shift that threatens to change the world of recruitment and workplace relations for good. As we move to remote, more flexible workforces so we are looking for different skills, experience, attitude and capability.

Passion and enthusiasm is far more beneficial than a dysfunctional individual with education and experience.

Years ago it was all about the skillset.

Today, what we are looking for as employers way surpasses someone’s skillset and previous experience, and increasingly involves consideration of attitude, personality and their fit to company culture. I recently hired an individual with a Tourism degree to work in our PR business, and despite competing against some better qualified applicants, that individual won on passion, attitude and the sheer refreshing level of positivity they rippled throughout the office.

This shift in hiring is resonating at the big end of town as well as with SMEs. It would have been unheard of a few years ago for the big four accounting firms to hire people without an accounting degree, but this is just what KPMG announced in January 2016 when their conventional audit division took on 42 graduates without a business or accounting degree to enhance soft-skills and diversity in the division. Just over a third of KPMG’s 389 audit graduate intake in 2016 do not have an accounting background but are skilled in everything from environmental science and Mandarin to counter terrorism and social work.

Part of this shift comes from the need to hire people who both bring a unique perspective and sync well with the existing team, to ensure diversity and contribute to a healthy and functional team environment.

If you think one of your main jobs as a Manager or Team leader when hiring new employees is to keep everyone happy – think again. It is likely to be a losing battle!

Far better to (of course) do your best to make the people who work with you happy, but hire people who are pro-actively committed to working together to keep the ‘’business train’’ in motion and help keep each other happy. A team player is far more beneficial on the long train journey than an educated individual who stands aloof and unyielding. The team needs to be ‘’on board’’ to motivate one another and work as a cohesive whole, or you will burn out from the exhaustion of forever dragging people along. Aloofness can be the destructive force that slows the train. So get it disembarked as quickly as you can.

On the flip side, it remains the ultimate truth that getting the right people ‘on the train’ is critical to the success of a business – and makes the world a happier, easier place. Like any relationship, the journey of finding and keeping that ‘right’ person is fraught with revelation, time and energy but if successful it can truly reward all parties with the greatest of highs.

The good news

Recruiting is a bit like marriage – with the best research, best approach, there is no guarantee it is actually going to work.

Best to hire someone you like and someone that others also want to be around. But keep in mind that popularity won’t continue if they aren’t pulling their weight or contributing!

In the same way, no-one has yet worked out a precise equation to help us find our right life partner – ultimately, hiring someone new should at the very least be based on one’s strength in both technical skills and personality to match business requirements and workplace culture. As a final word of advice, as with any relationship, while track histories are great, gut instinct has to be the closer!

About the author:

Sharon WilliamsSharon is a pioneer in the Australian marketing and public relations agency industry. She is a CEO, Fellow of the PRIA, international speaker, personal brand expert, entrepreneur, mentor, marketer, media commentator and frequent mainstream editorial contributor. Under Sharon’s leadership and entrepreneurial flair, Taurus is now recognised as one of Australia’s highest profile agencies, offering unparalleled levels of service to global corporations including Advance, UTS:INSEARCH, Appster, Napoleon Perdis and Clean Up Australia.


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Sharon Williams

Sharon Williams

Sharon Williams is the founder and CEO of Taurus Marketing. She has founded a number of businesses and organisations and has more than 25 years experience in marketing and PR from the UK and Europe to Asia, and now Australia.

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