By SIRIVISH TOOMGUM
It is among the findings of its survey seeking the opinions of managers hiring candidates for potential and the outcomes of this as a long-term strategy towards growth.
“Grow your Talent, Hire Based on Potential”, the latest Robert Walters guide released in October, includes insights from over 3,000 managers and professionals from Thailand and five other countries: Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Vietnam.
The guide reveals that in Southeast Asia, 94 per cent of hires based on potential were retained in their jobs.
Yet close to half (42 per cent) of hiring managers in the region remain reluctant to evolve their recruitment strategies beyond hiring based solely on experience. This was despite using resources to recruit, evaluate, and subsequently manage employees who are not a good fit.
The hesitancy to recruit on potential, despite growing importance of it, is reflected among Thailand’s respondents too. Yet, adopting this philosophy could be the key to future recruitment drives according to Srisakul Thunwuthikul, Manager of Sales & Marketing (Healthcare), Robert Walters Thailand.
“Talent has become an increasingly in-demand asset and valuable resource for companies on a worldwide, regional, and local levels. With Thailand being an evolving and strategically located hub within Asean, strategising on how to effectively compete to attract hires from available talent pools is essential and an intrinsic element in achieving a competitive edge with successful sustainability and growth. As the intensity in competing for talent continues, hiring for potential is gaining traction as a viable talent growth strategy in Southeast Asia as a whole.”
Experience over potential
In Thailand, over 60 per cent of respondents considered experience as one of their top three considerations when looking for a new hire, with over 46 per cent focused on the ability of candidates to learn quickly and over 33 per cent citing soft skills as another key factor.
However, while this suggests a willingness to value potential, over 44 per cent of respondents stated that they had rejected a candidate who showed a lot of potential but lack the right qualifications or experience.
While close to 52 per cent of those surveyed did respond that they had hired someone who showed a lot of potential, but did not have the right qualifications or experience, over 48 per cent had not, with nearly 16 per cent of this group stating that they would not consider doing so either.
Traits of potential
In Thailand, respondents identified individual traits that convinced them to hire based on potential. These comprised of: willingness to learn (74.23 per cent); motivation (64.95 per cent); engagement (34.02 per cent); creativity (28.87 per cent); insights (16.49 per cent); curiosity (13.40 per cent) and other reasons (4 per cent). In terms of these hires, 85 per cent were said to have become valuable team members, with 38 per cent of these viewed in such a way after time was taken to train them.
Hires that only fixate on experience may lead to costly delays in filling positions, among other issues. In Thailand, under 5 per cent of positions within the survey had had an offer accepted in less than one month and while nearly 40 per cent reported a hire window of one to two months, over 49 per cent of positions were reported to have taken between two to six months, and over 6 per cent over half a year. Widening the scope of the recruitment process to include candidates with potential could close these gaps.
Out of the successful recruits deemed not to have turned out to be a good fit once hired for a role, the majority (close to 29%), were recorded as not delivering as expected. Over 19 per cent were regarded as not having the right learning attitude, not having the right skills, knowledge or expertise.
Potential not favoured
The “Grow your Talent, Hire Based on Potential” guide cited a preference, across the region, for candidates who can pick up work immediately, the technical nature of the role, and the lack of know-how to evaluate the person’s potential as key reasons for not hiring high-potential professionals. One in three, (30 per cent) of respondents believe that a candidate with the right qualifications and experience will eventually show up.
In Thailand, the top reasons for respondents not considering hiring based on potential also include a preference for someone who can pick up the work immediately (44.83 per cent); as well as the role being very technical and requiring significant prior experience and skill sets (44.83 per cent); the company not having the time, resources and expertise to offer in-depth training (41.38 per cent); difficulty in identifying whether a person would be a good fit for their team (37.93 per cent); taking more time and work to train someone (37.93 per cent); believing that someone with the right qualifications and experience will show up (24.14 per cent); finding it difficult to assess the potential of an individual (17.24 per cent); and concern that the candidate would not be able to learn quickly enough (13.79 per cent).
Nurturing niche skill sets
The guide suggests ideas for companies wishing to adapt their recruitment strategies based on potential. This includes identifying crucial or secondary requirements to the role, ensuring a realistic job description, looking out for signs of opportunities or progress in the candidate’s job experience, and engaging the expertise of recruitment consultants, especially in hiring talent with niche skill sets.
In a separate interview with The Nation online newspaper, Srisakul cited successful stories with her company sourcing candidates based on potential for her clients. They were accepted and have since stayed with their employers, she added.
"Given that these group of people are receptive, eager to learn, have the drive and motivation, they feel challenged to do things they have not done before and have the eagerness to close the gap and be successful in what they are asked to do,"
"Also, growth is in the mindset of potential candidates; they want to do new things and continue learning. They want to be trained and invested upon; and when they realise the investment that is being made on them, they tend to invest more in their work, proving to the company they are capable for the role,"
"Loyalty and new ideas come with potential candidates; they want on stay with the firm to keep learning about the business and since they are considered unique assets to the company, they are able to inject new ideas to the team".
"On the other hand, hiring based on experience gives the company what they are expecting right away as these group of people are experienced in what they are doing and will do it well. However, companies will need to find ways to keep them motivated and loyal to the company because when there is no more excitement in work, they may reconsider their roles".