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  • Writer's pictureMy HR Guy

Trump or Hill - Fit or Skill

I began writing this blog in the middle of this election season, and though my goal is to talk about current events and provide some career and/or workplace context to them, I was pretty set on not discussing politics. I didn’t realize how difficult that would be, considering the material that the current presidential options provide.

So today, I’m breaking my own promise, and I will be discussing politics. But only a little bit…

As we approach election day, we find ourselves with two polarizing figures who have very different backgrounds. Each are trying to appeal to the voting public by highlighting their background, and discrediting the background of the other.

With Donald Trump, you have an outsider. Someone who doesn’t have deep ties to politics and therefore is a break from the establishment. The establishment that has gotten us into an economical, and political mess, and as such, there are many people who want to move away from what’s traditional.

On the other hand, with Donald Trump, you have someone who people say is inexperienced, offensive, destructive, and doesn’t seem very convinced of his own beliefs since they change minute to minute.

With Hillary Clinton you have the experience and the tenure. You have someone who understands what it takes to be successful in this role, because of her previous political duties, as well as her relationships with past (and the current) presidents. She’s made the necessary mistakes that will give her the ability to make better decisions going forward, and has been on the right side of good decision making.

On the other hand, with Hillary Clinton, you have someone people say is a liar, a crook, and should be in jail. The fact that she’s been in politics for so long and has had time to make positive change (and hasn’t) is enough reason to disqualify her from consideration.

These are two very different candidates. So what’s the right answer?

When I partner with managers on how to recruit someone, we start with something very basic. We have to start by understanding our need. What is the goal of the role? What are the responsibilities that this person will need to take on to achieve those goals? Finally, what are the skills this person needs to bring to the table, in order for them to be successful?

I have applied this to the job seeker as well. What are you interested in pursuing, and what skills do you bring to the table for that role.

That’s the first step. The second step requires us to determine, of the needed skills, what are absolutely necessary, versus what is nice to have. There’s a saying in recruiting that most managers want the “purple unicorn (or another non-existent creature).” That is, they want the person to be perfect. If you have any experience in life, you know that perfection is a rarity. And though we think we need the perfect candidate to perform the job, by searching for that candidate, we run the risk of a job being open indefinitely

Therefore, we need to determine which skills are absolutely critical. We do that by having an honest discussion around what can be trained on the job in a reasonable amount of time. If we can train you, it’s not critical to come to the table with it. For example, basic Excel formula’s; they take some time to get used to, and like a language, you need to use it to continue to excel (no pun intended) at it, but it’s not a crucial skill, in most cases.

However, a fundamental understanding of financial concepts may not be trainable. If your 4 year college degree, or 8 years of experience, have given you the skill and context necessary to do the job in front of you, then it’s likely something that can’t be trained on the job. This creates our Must Have versus Nice To Have list.

Same applies for job seekers. You need to determine what you can't live without in your new role (development opportunities), versus what would be really nice to have (Foosball table). What is really going to make you fulfilled while on the job?

Finally, there is the idea of skill versus fit. Though this is such a crucial component of hiring, and job seeking, it is one of the most frequently overlooked. Why?

It’s something we humans are frequently guilty of. We only look at what our immediate need is....what is right in front of our faces, and make a decision.

Think about what we eat. It’s easy to go to the grocery store and pick up food without really taking the time to look at what we’re consuming. Our immediate need is to buy food that we will eventually eat.

Or maybe it's to save money while providing peace of mind that we can eat when the time comes. However, the long term toll some foods have on us is of no consequence. Why? It’s not an immediate concern, when it should be. We can't see it squarely in our face, and even when we do, we sometimes don't know how to process it.

The same thing happens when hiring or accepting a job. We look for what appears to be our most immediate need, and that is a warm body (a term recruiters use to describe an average hire) or “any old job.”

It may be that you need to get someone in the role, or you'll lose the headcount. Or you just need a job because you have to pay the bills. The immediate need trumps anything else that should be considered.

In either of of these scenarios (recruiting or job hunting), you need to consider whether skill or fit is more important. Skill, is that thing that says yeah this applicant can do the job or yeah, this job will allow me to do what I like and allow me to grow the way I want to.

Fit, well that's that thing a couple of months down the line that could give you regrets. That's that dread that tugs at you when you wake up in the morning because this wasn't what you expected. It's that date you had that "on paper" looked like it should work, but it went horribly wrong. FIT.

Are you willing to sacrifice fit for skill? As an employer, do you want Steve Jobs or Jack Welch. Do you want 50 Cent or Drake. All very good at what they do, but on one hand you have the "I will run anyone over to get what I want, but I can be very successful?" Or you can have the "I'm a nice guy, but I can be very successful?" FIT. What fits your organization? What FITS your needs?

These are the decisions that will contribute or take away from your happiness. I recently spoke with a manager who said their organization had a "no jerk" rule. This was in response to me asking what they valued more, skill or fit. By his answer, it was fit.

We have to know what type of environment we want to be in. It's not a question of overall right or wrong, it's a question of what fits for you.

MY HR GUY Interpretation

Hillary and Donald, in some cases, are a question of fit. There's no question; by law, we need a new president. I can also assume that we all want the same thing from a president. Not only a leader, but someone who will build our economy, protect us from terrorist attacks, and keep our taxes low, among other things.

There are probably a few nice to haves as well, with respect to the things we'd want them to do. Grow small businesses, support innovation, high speed rails...things along those lines. But who is the right fit? We all have flaws, but who is bringing that intangible thing to the table that will make you sleep more comfortably at night?

Donald Trump's recent scandal, "#TrumpTapes, though shocking, is a FIT discussion. Does being a pervert who degrades women disqualify you from being president? Is this the type of behavior that is becoming of the most powerful position in the world? Does that FIT how we want the world to view our president?

Does Hillary's scandal-laden history disqualify her? At this point, she's never been found guilty of doing anything illegal, but does that cloud of uncertainty FIT within the office of the president?

Which has a FIT issue that could come back to haunt you in a few months, and do you care? Is the skill more important?

And what about you personally? What's more important to you? And if it's FIT, how do you test for it?

Well, only you know what's most important, but I'm pretty certain that at some point in your life, it will be FIT.

If you're already there, it goes back to your preparation. When looking for a job, or posting a job, you have to outline your needs. Include FIT in that outline. Where does it fall for you? What exactly is it, which is sometimes difficult to identify? How will you find out if a person or a job is the right FIT for you? What questions can you ask that will get you to that?

Not only do you have to do this assessment, you have to be willing to walk away if the fit isn't right.

If you value work-life balance, and the person you are interviewing with schedules the interview at 6pm, or on a weekend, there's your clue that it might not be a fit. It may be worth following up about how often people work weekends, or ask about work-life balance.

If it's not in line with your needs, no matter how good the job sounds, you need to walk away. You will only end up disappointed.

So how important is FIT to you?

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