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News & Media

From the Front Lines

Hiring for Character is Hiring for Stability

People are more educated and have more skills than ever before, but does that make them better employees? In the last few years, many employers have begun to focus less on technical proficiency in the hiring process, instead putting some additional emphasis on the character of the employee. One of the reasons for this is stability, or consistency.

“While skills, knowledge, and ability develop with experience, an employee’s personality is unlikely to change,”* writes Eileen Levitt, founder and president of The HR Team.

According to a 2014 study, the “vast majority of employers—77 percent—believe that soft skills…are just as important as hard skills”**. Soft skills are intangible aspects of one’s personality, such as dependability, persistence, and cooperation; inversely, hard skills are job-specific skills, such as whether one is proficient in a program or has managerial experience. The circumstances in which a person develops hard skills versus soft skills are very different: we learn how to be good employees by doing the job, but we become good people when we are tried and tested by life. Those changing moments happen to us far less frequently than our daily work does, so while we can expect to become proficient in our jobs fairly quickly, who we are and how we interact with the world will change much more slowly. This isn’t to say that bad people are doomed to badness and good people can never fall from grace, but barring some unusual circumstances we can typically expect that people are more or less the same from day to day.

For our veterans, where quality of character is essential to overcoming the obstacles that they face, it’s encouraging to see HR departments take an interest in this aspect of the hiring process. At Project RELO, our intent is to highlight the quality and character of our veterans and make it clear that their innate and tested virtues that make them ideal for a career in the business sector.

- Natalie