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By Evert Akkerman

Can organizations hire for “fit” without sacrificing diversity? Many organizations tout diversity and inclusivity all over their websites yet many shy away from bringing in people with a fresh perspective.

If we emphasize cultural fit, we end up selecting people “like us,” with diversity and inclusivity as collateral damage. Values are at the core of diversity; it’s about who the candidate is, not whether the candidate is like us.

The phenomenon of “fit” usually has three components: job fit, team fit and organizational fit. Job fit is a matter of skills, abilities and experience, while team fit and organizational fit are based on working well with others and blending with the culture. What’s often missing from the equation is values – the core beliefs and goals that all members of an organization should share, regardless of background and what they look like. Great teams tend to consist of people with different talents but similar values, driven by the same goal or ideal.

Job fit is the easy part of recruiting. Team fit and organizational fit are harder to determine. What it often comes down to with team fit is: do the team members like you? Organizational fit is more of a broad stroke and tends to include unwritten rules and codes. This can be an obstacle to hiring great talent, as we’re stereotyping people for fit into an organization.

Selecting for shared experiences and similar personalities may come at the expense of new skills, fresh ideas and future potential. If we want to take an organization from static and morose to energetic and efficient, we need to hire people that don’t fit the current mold. As an example, a CEO had to choose between three corporate trainers that presented RFPs based on the company’s five-year plan. One of the candidates mentioned that she was a fundraiser for a charity the CEO supported, and that was it. He decided – based on that commonality – that she would be a great fit. Come training time, she did not deliver and failed to connect with the audience.

How about the role of technology in the recruitment process – is it working for us or against us? Output can only be as good as input. If we feed terms like energy, passion and innovation into an ATS, we’ll get resumes with those words. When we present the hiring manger with six dynamic superheroes, chances are they won’t be considered a fit. This is where an ATS stops being of any value at all, as these only look at resume fit.

Regardless of how much effort we make, no recruitment process will ever be fail-safe. You will only know whether you’ve made the right decision once a new hire is actually in the job, as this is the stage where skills, abilities and character match with the new environment and values are actually put to the test.

It is crucial to begin a recruitment process by defining the job we want to fill, the difference the position should make for the company and which experience, skills and abilities will help the company achieve its goals.

Evert Akkerman is an award-winning HR professional based out of Newmarket, Ont.

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