My wife and I have three sons, all grade school age and under. During the week when we sit down at the dinner table and review the school day, their favorite topic to discuss of course is recess. They’ll talk about whom they played with and what games or activities they did. Over the duration of the school year, the names of the kids they play will change periodically. What is constant is that kids tend to play with whom they like and others who share their interests.
This example is an analogy for how most companies hire. According to an Oct. 2012 article in Forbes, the vast majority of employers (88%) favor culture fit over skills when looking for their next hire in an effort to combat rising attrition rates.
Personal networking and referrals is still the number one method by which companies hire. Doing so limits their risks and costs by getting a “known” individual and therefore someone more likely to fit into their work culture.
The great irony of hiring is that companies advertise a skill set but ultimately hire for the right culture fit. They have a picture in their mind of what they want the person to be like even more so than a picture of what they’ll be doing. This doesn’t mean that skill set isn’t important, but that often it isn’t the priority. The best candidate on paper doesn’t always get the job, but the one they feel fits their environment the best usually does.
Learning to develop and maintain good relationships with others is an invaluable life skill. I would argue that it will have more to do with your long-term employability than any other individual skill or degree you could attain. Because at the end of the day, companies pick out the people they like the best and feel most comfortable with. Just like kids on the playground do.
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