'Attitude and skills' will only go so far when it comes to hiringPosted about 3 years ago by Nick Boulton

I had an interesting quote forwarded to my inbox by our Marketing Manager:

It seemed to trigger a bit of debate on LinkedIn , which I know is the point of a lot of these ‘clickbait’ posts, but it also irritated me somewhat.

I know everything needs context, but to simplify hiring like that and make it sound that easy is insulting to anyone who has spent a serious amount of time trying to hire people. Unless you are hiring for manual labor, menial tasks or A/B type jobs, there is more to it than attitude, believe me.

Skills can be taught and realistically you should be aiming to upskill anyone you hire, but it’s not that easy. They take months, years even decades to master or become proficient at it.

A more apt quote would be something like:

“Attitude and skills, intrinsically linked, attributes of many, mastered by few.”

I think hiring – especially in the technology market – is much more than attitude, and it’s certainly not purely about skills either.

Attitude can be developed with a few ‘self-help books. I have a list longer than my arm of how to improve your approach, or you can subscribe to the said contributor on LinkedIn.

Skills can be honed, sharpened or learned at university, in books or by practising your craft in your own time (or by sneaky recruiters feeding candidates interview questions, but that’s for another time).


If you want to hire the absolute best people who add value from day one, you need to go beyond this and find two small qualities which will transform your hiring.

I’m not about to unveil some mythical formula or let you into some industry secret. Despite what you read about qualifications and skills or people who claim “hiring is all about the candidate’s attitude,” they are wrong.

Yes, you need people with outstanding technical ability, that’s a given, but also fairly easy to test for. Attitude is very important, but don’t be wowed by someone’s technical skill alone or the fact they’re oozing PMA.

The two things I look for in all potential employees and I think make the best hires are:

Resilience – This could not be more relevant than over the last 12 months. Being resilient is one of the most important attributes to being successful in any walk of life. But that has really been put to the test the last year. Nothing comes easy and unless you have the ability to roll with the punches and pick yourself up, then you’ll find success a lot harder to achieve.

Nous – What I’m talking about here is business acumen, street smarts and savvy. You would be staggered at the number of people who lack any common sense. In a world where everything is at our fingertips and where we have so much immediate gratification, there are hundreds of small decisions we make every day that either makes our lives easier, more efficient or just makes everything harder than it should be.

Hiring the right people is hard and extremely important to get right. It can be incredibly expensive to hire the wrong people and there is no silver bullet, it takes time to get it right. I know businesses are constantly looking at cost savings and internal teams and RPO models are extremely fashionable at the moment.  But when looking for the absolute best technologists or people in your specific industry, you cannot beat an expert in that field. The perceived cost saving made by trying to bring this process in-house or hand it over to an RPO model is negated by not having the best talent in first. We see it all the time.

Come chat to us if you’re looking to scale up or you’re a business that hires critical people.