A myopic focus on skill is a terrible way to hire, particularly during the skill shortage that manufacturing sector is currently facing.  

Manufacturing companies no longer have the luxury of hiring purely on skill, and even when they do, this approach often leads to poor hires. 

We’re not saying manufacturing companies should be hiring people without any of the necessary core skills to build upon. It would be a substantial burden on your business to recruit large numbers of people to train from scratch.  

However, successful hiring managers recognise that once you look past the critical competencies, you require for a role, there’s a vast pool of potential candidates who are keen to learn—as long as your company is willing to put in the effort and resources towards training them up to the desired skill level.  

Here are some of the persuasive reasons why you should be looking to hire on attitude rather than skill.  

1. If skill level is the primary determinant in hiring decisions, research shows that your hires have a worryingly high chance of failure.  



An American leadership research company called Leadership IQ tracked 20,000 new hires, only to find that 46% did not work out within 18 months.

Interestingly, only 11% of these ‘failed’ hires came down to a lack of skill: a shocking 89% of these hires failed at the company due to reasons of attitude, such as a resistance to coaching, poor emotional intelligence, and lack of motivation or suitability to the company culture.  

Therefore, do not get dazzled by the experience on a CV. Give serious thought to whether this person appears adaptable and keen to learn, as well as whether they’ll be a good fit for your company culture. Otherwise, that ‘high performer’ that you’ve paid good money to hire may move on within a matter of months.  

 2. In a skill shortage, there are simply not enough high-skill candidates 

In a skills shortage, manufacturing companies do not have have the luxury of cherry-picking candidates purely based on skill.  

A company who refuses to hire candidates that don’t meet all their wish list of skills may find themselves unable to build a workforce for the future.  

They also risk missing out on enthusiastic young recruits who just need a chance to build some solid experience.  

3. Candidates with excellent attitudes are a pleasure to train. 



In a skills shortage, companies are going to have to take more responsibility for training up their hires to the desired level. Luckily, if you’ve hired based on attitude, your new hires will eagerly learn what is needed.

At the same time, you’re creating a culture of learning and career development that most employees crave, particularly your Millennial hires. If you provide the training and a promising career path, your employees are much more likely to be loyal and engaged in the long term. 

4. You’re not inheriting ‘bad habits’. 

Employing someone who has many years of experience can be a double-edged sword. The onboarding process is  much easier, but you also risk inheriting ingrained poor habits learnt at other companies and in some cases a stubborn ‘I know it all already’ attitude.

With a hire that has less experience but shows a keenness to learn, you have a blank slate to train up in your company way.  

Additionally, when you hire employees from other industries, you’re often welcoming in a spirit of innovation, as your company can learn fresh ways of doing things.

What to look for when hiring for attitude 

Look for longevity on a CV.  

The longer someone has stayed with their former company, the better it shows the employee is loyal and able to withstand the inevitable ups and downs of any job.

Of course, this is just a general indicator— in some employees a long time in one job indicates a career lethargy and unwillingness to tackle new challenges, so you’ll need to assess this alongside the candidate’s persona.  

Assess their keenness to learn.  



Every candidate will say they’re keen to learn in an interview, but when pressed, do they really ‘walk the walk’?

Ask them some questions about the industry to determine their actual level of interest, notice if they ask good questions about the company, and inquire about their hobbies and interests to see if they genuinely enjoy learning.

If someone hasn’t bothered to do any background company research, or don’t have any real interests outside watching TV, there’s an excellent chance they’re not natural learners. 

Ask them what company culture they perform best in, and how they like to be managed.  

You might have a ‘star performer’ sitting in front of you in an interview, but what you might not know is that they can’t bear being micromanaged, or alternatively they might like very regular feedback. This candidate might love teamwork, and enjoy sharing their knowledge…or they may hate it.

Some of these attributes might work brilliantly in your existing company culture, while others will ensure this hire is a failure within 6 months. If you want to know this person’s attitude is going to be a good fit, you’re going to have to ask. Their CV is unlikely to give you the answers. 

As manufacturing companies build their workforce for tomorrow, innovation and adaptability in hiring practices is crucial. It’s time to stop hiring purely on skill and start hiring predominantly on attitude. 

And remember, if you show that you’re willing to give an inexperienced but keen candidate a chance, and invest your time and energy into training them, you’ll have their loyalty. In this day and age, that’s worth fighting for. 

Best regards,



We are ‘South Wales Recruitment Specialists’ based in Cardiff, Wales.

We offer a full range of permanent recruitment solutions to many of South Wales’ and the South Wests’ leading manufacturing, technical, automotive and life science organisations. This includes companies in Cardiff, Swansea, Newport, Ebbw Vale, Port Talbot, Bridgend and the surrounding areas in South Wales.

Sigma Recruitment has one of the largest and most comprehensive recruitment candidate databases in the area. To get in touch with our team call us now on 02920 450 100. Alternatively, contact us here.

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