What Are Your Company’s Skills Criteria When Hiring?

When screening candidates for employment, what, besides applied skills, are also fundamentally important to your company?


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After reading a discussion on the Society of Plastics Engineers’ (SPE) platform, The Chain, it got me thinking about mold manufacturing companies I’ve interviewed who shared how they find and recruit apprentices. Most look to local high schools and community colleges that have some form of machining courses in place because, of course, it helps when apprentices already have some applied knowledge of the manufacturing process. But what, besides applied skills, are also fundamentally important?

For example, in January I wrote a feature article about Metro Mold and Design in Rogers, Minnesota. CEO Greg Heinemann called out what is termed a “soft” skill. He said agility is a trait that is key to the company’s future success, and Metro Mold has “invested significantly in processes and people to drive creative thinking” – another soft skill. Agility, he said, is how Metro Mold will be able to adapt to the continually changing demands of its customers.

In a March article I wrote, Tim Krieger, president of Krieger Craftsmen in Grand Rapids, Michigan, spells out very clearly some “soft skill” qualities his team must possess: “Our employees know we have to present ourselves to the customer as a shop that can fulfill a promise. I’m proud to say I have a loyal, honest team with a good work ethic. They’re proud of what they do, and they care. The success of our company rests on that.”

Traits required at Legacy Precision Molds Inc., another mold builder based in Grand Rapids, include nimbleness in one’s approach to a project. Vice President Tyler VanRee told me that, in his opinion, nimbleness either exists in a company or it doesn’t, but Legacy’s team is accustomed to being challenged in their work and nimbleness lets them “field the unexpected, comprehend it and react quickly to whatever the customer needs.” Integrity is also a deeply-held and coveted part of Legacy’s culture, he says.

Rich Martin, who is business development manager for JMMS Inc. in Easley, South Carolina, told me, “In terms of hiring, we always have an opening for the right person. At the same time, the talent has to fit our culture.” I hear this reference to company culture often, so I know hiring employees who will fit the mold (pun intended) is essential.

Does your company have a list of specific soft skills or cultural requirements that potential employees must meet before you hire them? Is there any “make-or-break” soft skill that, if missing, could eliminate a candidate even if he or she has the technical skills you need? Let me hear what’s on your list! Comment below or email me.