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Cultural Fit vs. Skillset: You Can Have Both!

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In the world of recruiting, a candidate’s cultural fit and skillset are like two legs supporting your favorite desk or table. When one of them collapses, the whole thing is likely to come tumbling down. The great hiring debate rages on: which of these two qualities is more important? And the answer is a resounding, “Both!” Whether you’re trying to be placed for a job yourself or helping someone else fill one, you need to nail both cultural fit and skillset – and yes, it can be done.

About Culture

Employees who are the right cultural fit are more likely to mesh seamlessly with their new team members, as well as motivate and inspire others. In the short term, they may need more training, onboarding, and attention as they master required job duties, but when all is said and done, they’re a good hiring investment.

  • Skills can be learned on the job, but cultural alignment can be neither taught nor bought. Proponents of hiring for cultural fit make a good argument: Hiring people who are unable to collaborate effectively can be a recipe for disaster. The collateral damage can include poor work quality, lower morale and job satisfaction, declining productivity, a toxic environment, higher turnover, and damage to your reputation. Ouch.

About Skillset

But wait. While there’s no doubt that culture counts for a lot, you also can’t hire exclusively on that basis. Consider the pros of applicants who bring exactly the needed set of skills to the hiring table:

  • They can hit the ground running. Without the right level of skill for a position, you’ll need to make an additional investment of time and staff resources to coach a new hire and bring them up to full productivity. Are you ready, willing, and able to do this?

And, once you’ve verified all the facts regarding a person’s skills, you can feel more confident that you’re not making a decision based on bias or a hiring manager’s “gut feeling.” In other words, have they hired someone simply because they “get one another?”

  • A hire based solely on cultural fit can lead to a homogenous organization, limited in diversity. In many cases, choosing a more unconventional candidate based on their technical expertise or experience can enhance company culture. With different workstyles and ideas collaborating to achieve the same ends, a lot more is possible.

Finding the Balance

The bottom line is: you don’t have to choose between cultural fit and skillset when it comes to hiring or applying for a new job. You need to strike the right balance between the two. The experts at Search Wizards can help you achieve this goal. With a singular focus on talent acquisition, we have an unparalleled track record matching top recruiting and sourcing pros with leading employers. Read our related posts or contact us today to learn more.



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