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We know that there’s still a tough market out there and, in order to gain a competitive advantage, recruiting the right talent is fundamental for any business across any sector. It can often be challenging to know which qualities you should be looking for in potential hires though, particularly when it comes to thinking about the importance of grades versus other skills. This is a topic that our Learning and Development Manager, Russell Beswick – who joined us earlier this year – discussed in a recent Recruitment Agency Now article. He outlines some of his top tips below for recruiters.

When it comes to identifying the top talent to join your organisation, yes, grades are important to look at. However, they actually reveal very little about an individual, and a candidate with a first class degree may lack some of the transferable skills needed to be a recruiter. In fact, I’d argue that one of the most important traits to look for is attitude. It encompasses so much that makes a recruiter successful – such as drive, dynamism and determination – and is something that is a lot harder to train and develop than the knowledge and key skills needed which relate to the industry.

This is a real focus for us at ConSol, and one of the reasons our hiring strategy works is because our values: Professional Delivery, Collaboration, Accountability, Innovation and Domain Expertise are embedded from the start.  We have found that there is a direct correlation between new talent displaying these and later individual success.  So how do we translate this into our hiring strategy and how could you do the same?

1. Devise or review your company values – We set up a working group of experienced billers, who looked at our company vision, the traits of those who were successful in the business and the behaviours our staff would need to display to help us to achieve our goals. This process achieves buy in and focus and is a platform for development of a robust hiring process.

2. Create competencies – Think about which indicators are the building blocks behind your values, and look for those within your candidate. For example our Value ‘collaboration’ has many facets.  We looked first at ‘client collaboration’ which for us means: working with a customer who has complex requirements to develop a relationship that results in a successful outcome for both parties.

3. Tighten up the interview process – Use both traditional competency based interview questions as well as activities that allow the candidate to demonstrate this competence.

4. Ensure your values are developed with training – After bringing in new hires who exemplify your values during the interview process, it’s now the role of your training to go beyond task and process and imbed the values. We do this by introducing our values on day one of the induction process and linking them to all exercises.

 5. Define measures of success – As well as training, regular assessment is really important. For instance, we carry out end of training knowledge checks together with online self-assessments that are driven by the individual. Also, in monthly reviews, our new talent are encouraged to provide examples of how they have displayed our values in their day to day tasks.

Being able to effectively identify and assess key traits in a candidate is invaluable for your consultancy. However, this is only the beginning, and if you want your emerging talent to continue to develop, you need to have a clear training programme in place. Only then will you ensure you have the best team in place to gain competitive advantage in a challenging market.