Hire for attitude, train for skill

Degree programmes adapting to shifting market demands

Society is changing, and with it people’s and companies’ values, practices and expectations. The business world is moving and so is the job market. Our programmes prepare you for the future by responding to or even anticipating changes and trends. But what are these? We asked two recruiters to share their views.

“You no longer work at the office from nine to five, but instead wherever and whenever suits you best – providing you deliver the agreed results”
Bert Verhaert, Head of Recruitment and Administration at KBC

Bert Verhaert (KBC)This new way of working is not without consequences, as Bert explains: “To enable flexible and remote working, easy and efficient communication is vital. Employers need to provide the necessary infrastructure, such as internet access, laptops and smart phones. At KBC we’ve already come a long way.”

It can be quite challenging for managers as well. “They need to get used to not seeing their team members all the time. They have to learn to empower their teams, focusing on the ultimate quality of the results. For employees, greater autonomy and flexibility means more accountability. They’re expected to take responsibility for what they do and can no longer hide behind the team.”

Bert believes this trend is largely being driven by Generation Y. “These digital natives know the technology exists to enable flexible working, which is why they’ve come to expect it. Also, modern-day family structures – single-parent or blended families – require more organisation. And with traffic getting worse, why not avoid unnecessary long commutes if you can?”

Flexible working can be a win-win for both employees and employers. A better work-life balance means happier employees and happier employees tend to perform better. KBC has embraced this new way of working, which ties in seamlessly with its recruitment campaign 9 to life. “The tagline is a pun referring to our ambition to provide you with much more than a nine-to-five job. And judging by our employees’ feedback, we’ve managed to do that.”

“The role of recruiters is changing. We’re increasingly becoming strategic partners to our client companies, while candidates turn to us for complete career coaching” Charlotte Sabbe, Team leader Recruitment & Selection at Hudson

Charlotte Sabbe (Hudson)What has driven this change? “The right talent is scarce,” Charlotte explains. “If you can’t line up five candidates with not only the right degree, but the right experience, background and technical knowledge as well, then you have no choice but to start considering other criteria. Such as what makes someone tick, their values and attitudes or whether they’d fit in with the corporate culture. Companies have realised that technical skills can be taught, but that values and behaviour are hard to change. Organisations shouldn’t seek to change those anyway. But cultural fit is important, so it’s our job to try and find that fit.”

While Hudson still gets the occasional ad hoc request to just fill a vacancy based on a profile description, the majority of its clients feel it’s important to work with their recruiters as partners. “So we sit down with them from time to time to think about their vision, their strategic plans and how their organisation will change as a result. When we propose a candidate, not only do we look at how he or she would fit in right now, we also give an indication of their possible future role.”

Candidates, in turn, have come to see recruiters as career coaches. “The younger generation is quite assertive and discerning. They want our advice on anything from salaries to whether they’d fit into a certain company. For candidates in their thirties and forties who’re at a crossroads in their careers, and increasingly for older candidates too, we’re a sounding board as well as a coach.

“All this means that the profile of recruiters is changing as well. Maturity, business savvy and sector knowledge have become essential.”

Self-management and coaching

Hire for attitude, train for skillProfessor Dirk Buyens, Academic Dean: “Bert touches on an important point. The new way of working calls for a different style of management. In our programmes we try to convince people to move from input to output management, rewarding the results rather than the hours of work put in. Quite a few managers find it difficult to trust that their staff are working when they can’t see them. We help our students to get rid of the illusion that when people are in the same building or sitting at their computers, they’re actually working. We teach them how to trust their staff.”

“Our Masters students are Generation Y, so I can certainly relate to Bert’s comments,” adds Professor Marion De Bruyne, Masters Programme Director. “Flexibility is important to them and they’ve really bought into this new way of working. They want a healthy work-life balance and a job where they feel they can learn and in which they’re coached. And as Charlotte says, they’re looking for a company where they’d really fit in.

“In our Masters programmes, we therefore emphasise personal development. Our students all undertake a self-assessment of their competencies and skills and create a personal development plan. They also receive coaching with feedback from both faculty and their peers. All this will eventually help them choose the job that’s right for them.”

“What Marion says also ties in nicely with one of Charlotte’s observations, which I’d summarise as ‘hire for attitude, train for skill’. It’s an old question – what can be taught and what’s a given – but it’s more topical than ever,” says Dirk. “Increasingly, managers are also asking this question about themselves. That’s why in reviewing our programme portfolio we’ve upped the focus on self-management and coaching for our MBA students as well. We hold up a mirror to help them understand their own behaviour and become effective managers and leaders.” 

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