The hiring process is a crucial element of any business’s success. The people you bring along with you on your journey to build your business matter. One of the most debated topics when talking about hiring is whether to prioritize hiring employees based on talent or work ethic. While both talent and work ethic are essential attributes, the decision on which to prioritize ultimately depends on your business’s goals, culture, and industry.
I am sure you remember those individuals in school who never had to open a book or study for a test. They somehow always got A’s, just by glancing over their notes right before the teacher handed out the test. They made Phi Beta Kappa in college with ease, while others struggled to even get honors. You may also recall those individuals, myself included, who had to study for everything. They would spend hours reviewing notes, making flashcards, and memorizing every little thing they could before an exam. If there was no preparation done on their behalf, it was definitely reflected in their grade. Or, in their overall end product.
As a business leader, you have probably come across those individuals who are naturally gifted in their field and can catch on to a job role quite quickly. You may also have encountered those who had to work hard to get where they are. Which one would you want to hire for your company? Would you hire a person who has the ability to catch on to a job quickly. Or, would you want to hire someone who is determined and knows what it’s like to put in a lot of effort to get the job done?
So, which quality should you look for when hiring? Here is a look into those two different kinds of individuals, and what their qualities could bring to your business and brand.
The Naturally Talented Individual
Talent refers to an individual’s natural ability to excel in a particular field or skill. For example, a software development company may prioritize hiring developers with a talent for coding. A sales organization may prioritize hiring salespeople with a natural talent for persuasion.
Many naturally gifted individuals don’t miss a beat. They aren’t deterred by new ventures and the learning curve is fairly high. They are also able to catch on quickly and stay on top of their duties without too much worry about their understanding capabilities.
If you choose to hire someone whose transcript is quite impressive with high grades and natural talent, be sure to understand their work ethic. This is not to say that someone you hire who is naturally talented lacks the ability to work hard. They just may not have faced something that they deem challenging. While others may have studied for hours or spend countless days writing a paper, they may have used half the time and gotten the same or a better grade in comparison.
The Hard Worker
work ethic refers to an individual’s attitude towards work, including their discipline, motivation, and dedication to the job. This isn’t to say that they lack intellect, just like those who are gifted lack effort. These individuals have a better understanding of what it’s like to face a challenging situation, and to put in no less than 100% effort. If they fail to prepare, in essence, they are preparing to fail.
Do not sell someone short on their learning curve capabilities. Coming from personal experience, seeing people have faith and patience in my work, proved that I was able to get the job done. Even if it took a little longer to finish.
Taking on a new task may be a little frightening at first, but do not sell them short in coming through on the job. Facing challenges and overcoming new obstacles is nothing new for a hard worker. However, one must have the patience and confidence in giving them a chance to prove that.
Talent vs Work Ethic: Differences When Hiring
Before hiring an employee, it is important to consider benefits and drawback of hiring based on talent vs work ethic.
The benefit of hiring based on talent is that individuals with exceptional skills can significantly contribute to goals for the business. Talented employees can bring fresh perspectives, innovative ideas, and help the organization stay competitive in the market.
When hiring based on talent, you may find that training your new employee goes a little more smoothly. People who are talented in their field tend to understand new processes quickly. They seem they use their intelligences to their advantage and apply them in their new roles.
On the other hand, Hiring based on work ethic means looking for candidates who are committed, reliable, and willing to go the extra mile. Work ethic is especially crucial for positions that require consistent effort and attention to detail. Think, for example, roles such as administrative or customer service roles.
The benefit of hiring based on work ethic is that it creates a positive and productive work environment. Employees with a strong work ethic are self-motivated, take ownership of their work, and prioritize delivering quality results. They also tend to have excellent communication and organizational skills as they recognize that those skills help the get the job done.
While both talent and work ethic are essential attributes for any organization’s success, the decision to prioritize one over the other ultimately depends on the organization’s goals, culture, and industry.
For example, a startup that is developing a new product may prioritize hiring based on talent. This may be because the success of the product will largely depend on the team’s skills and expertise. In contrast, an established company that values consistency and quality may prioritize hiring based on work ethic, as these attributes are crucial for maintaining the company’s reputation.
While this is just a general summation of characteristics, you may be able to see yourself leaning towards one type of individual versus another. Both individuals have the ability to be an asset for your company. While talent and hard work are qualities of a good employee, as a business leader, you have to decide which one has the most to offer to your brand and the business market. Do not be afraid to take a chance on either individual. Because all it takes is someone to give them the chance to prove that their capabilities are the right fit for the job and your company.
Hiring managers should consider a candidate’s overall fit with the organizations. This includes their values, personality, and long-term goals. A candidate with exceptional talent may not be a good fit for an organization with a strong focus on teamwork and collaboration.
While a candidate with an excellent work ethic may not thrive in an environment that values individual performance over team success. The decision to prioritize talent or work ethic should not be made in isolation. Rather, you should consider multiple factors when bring on someone knew. Whatever their strengths may be.
This article was first published in May 2017 but has been updated and expanded