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Leading By Example: Solving the Skills Gap with Niraj Shah

Kirstie Kelly

Peter Cappelli, writing in Time, believes that the skills gap that companies complain of is "self-inflicted". As I mentioned in 'Mind The Gap', too much emphasis is being placed on over-specific experience requirements and, combined with out-dated screening software, is resulting in quality candidates being rejected at the first round of selection. Cappellli asks: "Wouldn't we be better off helping good candidates complete the requirements to be a perfect fit rather than keeping positions open indefinitely?"

Niraj Shah would answer with a resounding ‘yes!’The highly successful entrepreneur and co-founder of Wayfair was interviewed in the NY Times business section and discussed his approach to hiring. He stated definitively, "You can try to differentiate people around experience and past success, but I try to differentiate them more around whether I would want them on the team if things were really tough."

Shah has developed a strong company culture at Wayfair and has chosen to outline a set of company values. When asked why he took the time to do so he answered: "We want them to capture the essence of who we are, so when we recruit, we can tell whether someone will be a good fit." Recruiters should take a step back and articulate the essence of the company they are representing. By doing so they will be able to better spot those good candidates who, with a little training, will be the perfect fit.

Shah acknowledges the trade-off between tick-box criteria, and a person’s core values and characteristics. Through experience he has learnt to "always prioritize the latter over the former". For Shah it is important to know that the people you hire have the strength and self-motivation to get stuck in during difficulties. Much less vital is simply satisfying an immediate and transient set of skills that can easily be developed on the job.

Shah is leading by example to correct the talent shortage. Are you willing to do the same?


Kirstie Kelly

Kirstie is our resident expert in the field of recruitment and technology, having 23 years total experience in commercial business across a range of business sectors. As a result, she has been instrumental in ensuring the innovative technology provided at LaunchPad is relevant for our customers. Kirstie's passion is all about finding creative solutions to recruitment challenges. And no better way than with technology!