Hire the Human, Train the Talent

Do you remember this question: Is it a fantasy draft or is it talent acquisition? The takeaway from this post is that we win at work when the employee and organizational values match. Culture fit is as important – if not sometimes more important – than hard skills. It turns out that a Super Bowl-winning quarterback agrees.

Drew Brees, the quarterback for the New Orleans Saints, recently spoke at SHRM’s Inclusion 2019 event about becoming a leader of professional athletes as well as a founder of a non-profit organization. He talked about leading through actions, and said, “As a quarterback, people will see what you do a lot more than they hear what you say.” He emphasized the importance of being willing to do the same work you’re asking others to do, including the soft, squishy parts of work and leadership like empathy and encouragement.

But here’s the real juice: Drew Brees is on board with values-based hiring. When evaluating candidates for positions at the Brees Dream Foundation, he is most interested in “strong work ethic, integrity, and character”. He looks to hire talent that will drive a healthy organizational culture, then train for the hard skills. And he’s not the only one.

Jennifer Liu with CNBC writes, “More than 60% of employers are now willing to hire applicants with less than the required work experience”. Instead of counting years of experience or requiring a specific degree or certification, companies are focusing on transferable skills and trainability. As the nature of work evolves – and talent wars continue – organizations are reevaluating essential job duties and required KSAs to determine what’s really critical to have on day one and what can be trained during or after onboarding.

Across all industries – professional sports included – the definition of top talent is changing. There is more emphasis on intangible qualities than ever before. Technical skills and experience remain highly important, just with the added dimension of matched values. It’s a people-first mentality. Hire the human, then train the talent.

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