UK businesses left wanting with tick-box recruitment strategies

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Almost two-thirds of companies prioritise experience and technical skills when recruiting, despite admitting that cultural fit and a candidate’s overall potential result in more successful hires.

According to research by Robert Half, 87% of business leaders made successful hires when evaluating cultural fit – congruent values, beliefs and outlook between the candidate and company – as well as their potential, while only 8% of hires were deemed unsuccessful.

The study suggests that current market conditions are causing businesses to undervalue soft skills – such as creative thinking and communication – in favour of candidates that appear to have the required skills on paper.

The result is that many businesses are potentially missing out on top candidates due to inadequate approaches to recruitment.

Robert Half found that experience and technical skills were the most important considerations for new hires, with 62% citing them as the most influential factors during the decision-making process.

By comparison, soft skills (15%), cultural fit (11%), and potential (11%) ranked lowest in business leaders’ hiring considerations.

The research also reiterated the importance of training, both during and after onboarding new staff, with upskilling reported as a contributor to successful hires.

Indeed, 61% of business leaders said internal and/or external training was key to making hires that lacked the technical knowledge but showed potential into successful recruits.

“There is no doubt that if candidates have the right attitude and aptitude, coupled with the right training, they can be excellent appointments. In fact, what looks good on paper – such as experience or technical skills – does not guarantee a successful recruit. Soft skills must also be taken into account,” said Matt Weston, Managing Director at Robert Half UK.

“Employers should strike the right balance between experience, skills and personality – only through planning can they evaluate gaps in a team, rank the required characteristics and tailor training accordingly.”

The research also highlighted the reasons that lead to unsuccessful hires based on prioritising cultural fit. 45% of general managers cited procedural and managerial problems, including unclear job requirements (26%), lack of leadership/guidance (11%) and insufficient training (8%), as the main reasons for unsuccessful hires.

“Leaders are clearly seeking a ‘safe pair of hands’ as they pursue growth and transformation strategies in a time of great change,” added Weston.

“In doing so they may be losing out on some of the most promising talent. With 81% of business leaders reporting that it is more challenging now than five years ago to find suitable candidates, this is something that must change if they are to combat the intensifying war for talent.”