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Should you Hire Reps on Mindset or Experience?

Reading through some recent hiring data, we discovered some interesting trends—and challenges.

According to CareerBuilder’s Midyear Job Forecast, 50% of surveyed companies plan to hire full-time, permanent workers in the second half of 2016. These employers expect to be hiring the most associates in two areas: customer service (29%) and sales (27%).

But as demand rises for client-facing talent, many managers will struggle to find—and compete for—the best candidates. According to a 2015 study by ManpowerGroup, companies in the Americas cited sales representatives as the third hardest job to fill, up from sixth in 2014.

Additionally, the study cited these top five reasons why employers found difficulty in filling jobs:

  1. lack of available applicants or no applicants (35%)
  2. lack of technical competencies – hard skills (24%)
  3. lack of experience (22%)
  4. looking for more pay than is offered (12%)
  5. lack of workplace competencies – soft skills (11%)

Your secret weapon

When LinkedIn surveyed talent acquisition decision makers, 39% agreed that quality of hire is the most valuable metric for performance, and 32% said employee retention is a top priority over the next 12 months.

So how do effective hiring managers find these quality candidates?

Look no further than your own team to mine quality candidates. Jobvite says, “Not only does it take a shorter length of time to hire a qualified candidate via employee referral, those hired stay longer.”

Jobvite’s hiring index reports that employee referrals constitute the plurality of hires (40%), and 47% of employee referrals stay for three years or more. Consequently, developing an organized employee referral program can reduce the time your hiring managers spend sifting through resumes and also speed up the hiring process.

For example, if you need to fill customer service roles, use Lessonly’s effective software to solicit and collect quality employee referrals. Start by creating a Lesson and composing specific questions like these:

  • How do you know this referral? (friend, family relation, former coworker, college, church, activity, other)
  • How long have you known this person?
  • Name five characteristics this person can bring to our team.
  • What qualities make him or her unique?
  • How do you see this person fitting with our team culture?

Associates quickly fill out the Lesson and Lessonly collects the responses, which you can easily download into a sortable spreadsheet for next steps and follow-up.
If you have a particularly urgent hiring need, consider also offering a bonus for prized hires. Typically, companies pay these to the referring employee after a referral has worked for the company for six months or more.

‘Hire for attitude; train for skill’

That’s what the customer-service experts at Zendesk recommend. Obviously, by attitude, they mean the traits that bring the best mindset and fit to both the position and the team. They suggest looking for these traits when hiring client-facing positions:

  • kindness
  • empathy
  • optimism
  • creativity
  • curiosity
  • teamwork

Related: Check out what customer-service leaders advise when you’re sifting through candidates.

Once you bring those new hires on board, Zendesk says you should train for these skills:

  • customer service expertise
  • bilingual or multilingual capabilities
  • use of positive language
  • ability to “read” customers
  • persuasiveness

Adding Lessons that tackle these target areas can reduce onboarding time and slot new hires into customer-facing teams more quickly.

In addition to onboarding new hires and growing learning across teams, Lessonly helps crowdsource and organize quality employee referrals to streamline hiring processes. Tour our product today to see how.

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