How Many Essential Skills Do You Require?

I read Latest figures increase digital skills gap fears as marketers struggle to fill jobs. (Tip of the hat to John Sumser.)

What's the problem? What kinds of people are hiring managers looking for?

“companies seek the ‘all-in-one’ marketing and technologically capable employee”

Well, that's the problem of too many essential skills.

Look, it's great if you can find someone with all those essential skills. But you can look for a very long time and not find someone with those skills. Why engage in a “war for talent” when you can find someone with many of the skills you need and train for the rest?

I just don't understand.

There are too many good people looking for a job who don't have precisely the necessary technical skills. If you are one of those people, negotiate. Everything is negotiable. Impress the hiring manager with your other skills, and explain how quickly you can learn new skills. Being adaptable is key.

If you are a hiring manager, here's how you ask about the ability to learn:

  • On your most recent project, tell me how you learned the insides of the product. (pause)
  • Tell me how you explained it to new people. (pause)
  • Sell me your product. (or market it to me or something like that.)

For adaptability, ask these questions:

  • On your most recent project, give me an example of something that wasn't quite what you expected. (wait for the story)
  • What did you learn from that? (wait for what the candidate learned and did.)
  • Give me an example of a recent time when you couldn't go solve a problem straightforwardly.  (wait for the story)

If the candidate can't answer these questions in a way that makes sense for you, okay. But please, ask the questions. And, notice how brief these questions are. No extra words. No asking how people solved problems. No hypothetical questions. Just experience. Just like a candidate will do for you.

If you don't know how to create behavior-description questions like this, read Hiring Geeks That Fit. And, stay tuned for webinars, once I figure out how to do them.

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