Should my hires have the right skill set already or can it be developed?

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When hiring, most recruiters usually focus on skills. Shortlisting and contacting applicants is mostly done based on what kind of a skill set the person has, and other aspects might receive less focus. Sometimes this can lead to dismissing highly motivated and enthusiastic possible future employees just because they are not (yet) mastering a certain programming language or speaking perfect Spanish. Should your hires have the right skill set already or can it be developed is a question you as a recruiter must answer.

Weigh in your resources

To tell you the truth, all skills are learnable, be it in the workplace or outside of it. However, you need to ask yourself: do I or does my company have the time, money and energy to train a new employee? If the answer is no, then you are probably better off with focusing on skills the applicants would bring with them to your company. On the other hand, if you have the resources available to train another employee it can help you in performance, as what new hires usually lack in skills they make up in attitude and enthusiasm.

Identify your needs

Whether you need to focus on skills or development in the workplace depends on what your needs are. What is the job description of the position you are planning to fill? Does it require specific or rare skills, or do you offer training in your workplace? Also, does the position need a professional with multiple years of experience in the field, or a general “nice person”? Identifying your needs helps you in deciding the required skill level of the applicants. If this feels difficult, don’t hesitate to ask for help: there are multiple organizations and people you can turn to.

A mixture of both?

Sometimes the best and the safest bet for you can be to take both aspects into account. For example, instead of hiring an experienced person to a senior position, consider hiring a junior employee whose skill set can be expanded on the spot. In doing this, the person’s inner qualities such as work ethic and attitude also play a crucial role.

The art of learning

No matter whether you choose to hire the right skill set or develop skills later, learnability (ability to learn new skills) is a key characteristic. Luckily over 90% of millennials think the same way, says Manpower Group’s Millennial Careers: 2020 Vision report. We are living in an ever-changing world where new technologies and work methods arise constantly, and a high learnability helps you and your employees in keeping up with the pace.


Determining whether your hires should have the right skill set already or if it can be developed is a trivial question, and it requires a lot of pondering from your side. There is no universal answer to this, you need to do what you feel is right. One thing is certain though: no matter what the hire or the position, you need to be absolutely sure about what kind of a person or skill set you wish to see in your organization.


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