Who wouldn’t like to have our hiring decisions made by Alexa or Siri?  While futurists tell us that possibility is just around the corner, those of us who hire regularly know that no matter how smart or intuitive Siri or Alexa become, a good hiring decision can only happen if you’ve created the right recruiting profile.    Whether you use business intelligence or a human being to make the hiring decision, you need to start with a clear picture of the “right fit”the skills, experience, personal attributes and motivational make up of the “right hire”. 

Here is some of the HOMEWORK we do with our clients before we start a recruiting assignment:

Understand the “real” work.

It always surprises us when a hiring manager dusts off an old job description and assumes it reflects the current work, the skills required, the attributes most important to success.  In most companies, work content changes rapidly – faster than most job descriptions can be updated.

And some of the information needed to identify the right candidate isn’t available in a traditional job description.   At PACE, for example, we take the time to find out about a “day in the life” of the future employee which looks at a broad range of elements important to understanding  work content.

Find out what’s different about the attributes of employees who have been successful in the role compared to employees who have not! 

If possible, talk to people who have actually done the work, supervised the work, or the internal customers impacted by how the work was done.  If at all possible you should identify the behaviors  often found in the  “top performers” and often missing  in “lower performers”.

In some cases PACE will do that research for you – using a variety of “assessment” tools to uncover real differences in the attributes of top performers, compared to lower performers.   When we uncover something that consistently makes a difference, we add a measurement of that attribute to our screening process.    

Get clear on the “hard skills” necessary to do the job! 

Particularly important is to differentiate between skills and experiences that must be there at the point of hire, and what skills can be learned or taught on the job.  It’s easy for hiring managers to “over request” and ask for candidates not readily available in the marketplace.  ”Over requesting” can turn an otherwise easy recruit into a hiring nightmare!

Here are the questions you can ask….

Identify the PERSONAL QUALITIES most important to success.  

We find that about 35% of hiring mistakes  happen when employers put too much emphasis on skills and experience rather than on the personal qualities that are equally, if not more, important to hiring success.  When an employee is in a job that allows them to work from their “personal strengths” and avoid situations that bring out their “weaknesses” they are happier, more productive, and more likely to be retained than employees who are asked to work in ways that do the opposite.

We’ve written extensively on this aspect of the “right fit”, because we know how important it is for hiring managers to get clear  on the personal qualities (i.e. Patterns of behavior) most directly linked to successful performance in their particular work environment.  A few of the most obvious personal strengths or preferences that work in some environments but not in others might include:

And I could go on…

Each job, each employee, has a unique profile that uniquely describes who they are.   It’s how the job and employee profiles match up that makes the difference in hiring success.  Picture the employee who likes to work independently, take action on their own decisions and hates meetings in an environment that is all about collaborations, many meetings, decisions made by others.   Need I say more

Get a read on the supervisor’s MANAGEMENT STYLE…

How do they communicate? set goals? evaluate performance? solve problems? reward or recognize their employees?  When an employee quits their job, its often because of their relationship with their boss.  How closely a supervisor’s management style matches up with how an employee wants to be supervised can have significant impact on retention.


…how many candidates are there in the job market who fit your recruiting profile?  How much are the top performers being paid?   In a hot job market, employers often have to re-think the profile of who they want to hire  because they simply can’t afford the price tag on a top performer.  Some employers lower their skill or experience requirements, and back fill with additional training resources to fill in the performance gaps.  Others will reconfigure the work content – assigning some of the higher level tasks to higher level employees.

Working from a recruiting profile that is “market competitive” is a big deal in today’s recruiting environment.       

PACE maintains current SUPPLY and DEMAND data to help our clients see the the number of candidates                actually available (looking for work) in the local  marketplace as well as the number of employers seeking those candidates at what pay levels.  Our clients know exactly what challenges they will face in recruiting the “just right” candidate.         

Understand the preferred MOTIVATIONAL PROFILE… 

You need to ask and answer four questions:   1) “What kind of person would want this job?  2)  Why?  3)  What kind of people are likely to dislike this job?  4)  Why?

You need to be clear about what kind of an employee would choose to work for you and why so that your recruiting story will be compelling to the right candidate.


This article was written by Jeanne Knutzen, founder and CEO of PACE Staffing Network, a 2017 and 2018 Best of Staffing winner and a Northwest staffing company who has been placing employees in jobs based on the “right fit” for over 40 years.


PACE Staffing Network places 1000’s of people each year in a variety of permanent and temporary roles with hiring managers spread throughout the Northwest.   If you’d like to know more about “hiring right” check out some of our Hiring Smart tools here.

If you’d like some help with your next hire click here.

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