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Values vs Skills: What Do You Look for While Recruiting?

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As a law firm, what weighs more, according to you, when recruiting new employees – their values or their adeptness at functional skills? Both approaches have their own pros and cons. Employers who vouch for a value-based approach believe that functional skills can definitely bring in short-term success but values are what really ensure an organization’s long-term success. Values are what will keep these employees loyal to an organization and work towards a common mission defined by the organization. Skills can be developed over time but not values! Integrity cannot be overlooked to get the right skills in a candidate.

Employee skills vs. employee valuesHowever, a shortfall of a value-based approach is that values are a relative term. Value may be defined as one thing by the CEO and another thing by your managers. Often, arriving at a concurrence about the organization's core values can be a tough task but, at the same time, it becomes the most important thing to do before you start operating your business.

A skill-based approach focuses more on training employees so as to increase productivity and efficiency at the work place. However, as a law firm, it is difficult to assume that all your employees have equal talent to learn new skills all the way. This can lead to unrest among employees as your expectations on productivity and efficiency may differ with their career aspirations.

While a balance between a value-based approach and a skill-based approach looks imminent, values often form the base of skills. Your corporate values are what will keep your employees together and motivated towards achieving your organization's goals. If your employees don't respect your firm's values but are adept at their functional skills, they will help you achieve aggressive business growth, However, your corporate values are at risk of getting diluted over time, leading to identity loss eventually.

Here are few steps to ensure that your law firm's corporate values are carried forward over the years:
  • Be clear about what your organization values: Define your values and let there be no ambiguity about your corporate values. It is difficult to align new employees to your organization's values unless you are clear about what these are.
     
  • Make a list of must-have skills: As an organization, which are those skills that you won't compromise on? The rest of the skills your organization needs can be built through training your employees.
     
  • Involve current employees to enlist the skill-set: Your current employees know more than anyone else what skills are required to perform their tasks. Engage them while interviewing candidates. You may even want to consider employees from within before looking outside your organization to fulfill a vacancy, as your existing employees are already in the stream of your corporate values.
Certain values like leadership and ambition cannot be judged by looking at the skill-set of a candidate, but these can take your law firm to greater heights. Assess candidates for values and skills separately and judge them based on what you value more for a particular job vacancy, before you recruit them.