How to hire: Recruiting value-aligned talent

How to hire: Recruiting value-aligned talent

By Chloe Field, Founder of Gather Talent Solutions 

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Why hiring is so hard right now

The current job market is hyper-competitive and tumultuous (thanks COVID!). Employers are battling it out for talent daily, which is making the desire to shortcut the hiring process and make an offer to someone ASAP very intense. In my 15+ years of recruiting, I have never seen the market like this hiring in this climate is the hardest I’ve ever experienced. 

Why? The last 18 months have made us rethink how we live, work and connect. It’s also made us deeply question the role of work in our lives and our values. 

So, why are jobs going unfilled? For some jobs, people just don’t have the right skills, while other jobs are undesirable, offering low remuneration and just don’t feel worth it. In other cases, there are plenty of acceptable candidates and jobs out there, but for lots of reasons, they’re just not being matched. There are also workers who are hesitant to go back to the office they’re nervous about COVID transmission or have care responsibilities at home that have made them rethink how and when they work. 

The cost of a rushed hire 

Hiring is hard for all of these reasons, but hiring someone based on a slingshot approach because you’re panicking isn’t the way to go. Hiring a cultural misfit will end up costing you time and money, not to mention aggravation – and it’s rarely worth it. 

When you first start hiring, you hire what you know. As your recruitment practices mature, you need to think about the direction of your organisation’s culture and what it needs to grow. Savvy hiring managers now hire for cultural contribution rather than just cultural fit – because hiring for cultural fit creates a monoculture. And no one wants that. 

What is cultural fit?

‘Culture’ is no longer about Friday drinks, table tennis and fluffy employee perks yet it’s often understood this way (by both employers and employees). I’ve seen hiring managers try to ‘sell’ a culture that doesn’t exist many times – they attract the candidates they want and when they inevitably leave you hear “I left because it wasn’t what I was sold”.

True organisational culture lies in people. It’s the way we collaborate with each other, treat each other and how we work together in the same environment – whether physical or digital. ‘Cultural fit’ was established as a foundation of many corporate recruiting processes. Over the years, the term has taken on more of a tribal meaning – we hire people like you, who speak like you, act like you and even look like you. 

Hiring for values 

When it comes to hiring, cultural fit just doesn’t cut it anymore. Now, we need to seek out people who exhibit shared values, shared understanding and shared experiences. 

One biggest personal filter is our own internal programming which is made up of our unconscious values and beliefs. Values are the things that are really important to us – the centre of who we are and our own moral compass. 

Goodbye cultural fit hiring, enter ‘values fit’ hiring.

Values drive the way we work and shared values lead to trust, which allows teams to overcome adversity together. Values rather than culture fosters diversity, inclusion and belonging – all fundamental to the success of a company.

Most companies have identified their values but rarely use them in their recruitment process (or use them very well). Hiring is exactly the time to put your values to good use and to really embed them in your company culture.

Finding the right balance

Culture add is about being open to people who share our values and ethics and bring new insights, skills or experiences to an organisation. It’s about attracting people who challenge our perspectives and ideas – it’s about hiring for diversity.

Values fit goes hand-in-hand with culture add, it’s crucial to hire people who bring fresh perspectives to the team, but they must share your values. Even more important is that the organisation and all its employees are clear about what their values are.

Changing from hiring for ‘culture fit’ to ‘values fit’ + ‘culture add’ is not easy. Sometimes finding people who share our values and ethics can be more difficult than finding people who ‘look like’ other team members. 

True fit hiring 

Here are some top tips for hiring for true fit (values fit and culture add) and changing the way you think about recruiting top talent: 

  • To begin, be clear about your company’s mission, vision, and values
  • Have a defined recruitment process, not something ad hoc that changes for each hire 
  • Create a hiring culture where everyone understands diversity and actively looks for those with diverse viewpoints, backgrounds, and skillsets 
  • Design a set of behavioural questions to assess whether a candidate would thrive in an environment with your company values
  • Use a scoring system and go beyond gut feeling! This can help challenge biased thinking 
  • Work with talent experts who understand your values and can source candidates who will contribute to the environment and growth 

Values and character are at the heart of an employee ‘fitting in’ to an organisation. Assuming they come with the basic understanding, training or pre-requisites for the job, you can teach them any skills they may lack. Values, on the other hand, are hard-wired, someone either believes a certain way or they don’t – if you assess values upfront, you can save everyone time, money and frustration. 

The key to a great workplace is having shared values. This helps foster enthusiastic, productive and happy employees, who feel safe, supported, empowered and appreciated as people while operating as a team to achieve common goals. Hiring simply for cultural fit excludes people that don’t fit a certain mould, but who could bring amazing diversity of thought, fresh ideas and innovation – which every company wants. 

(Plus, who wants a company full of the same person?! That’s just boring!)

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