It’s very comfortable and common for a hiring manager to search for specific skill sets when hiring for a position. Hiring managers are most likely to try to find someone with specific experience in the role and the skills needed for the role. For example, in the veterinary field, it is common for managers to search for veterinary assistants. Assistants that have already held the role elsewhere and already have the technical skill set for the job.

If you are one of these managers, it’s time to step out of the box and be more creative with your choices. I challenge you to choose your next hire based on talent not skill set. What do I mean by this exactly? People can be taught skills and learn new things, of course, at different paces, but it is not necessarily a talent to have a learned technical skill.

If you are choosing people based on previous experience in the same role or technical skill set alone, this can backfire easily. Sure, you may think they don’t need as much training because they’ve done the job before, but this is not usually the case. These individuals often already have “their way of doing things”. They’ve learned the skills a certain way, believe that is the best way and are less willing, if not unwilling, to change the way they do things. They need to be re-trained to understand the culture and meet the standards of your company and are often not as engaged in doing so.

This is in stark contrast to someone with talent but little technical skill set. People with ‘talent’ are generally hardworking, driven, and willing and able to quickly learn new things. Many times you find these people either just out of school or coming from a different industry, which leaves them at a disadvantage when it comes to skill level. But, as one of my favorite quotes goes, “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities. In the expert’s mind there are few.”

They may not be able to immediately perform every function of the role, but you are able to develop them and mold them into exactly what you are looking for. The skills can be taught, but ‘that something’, that drive and excitement for learning and leading cannot be taught.

I can tell you from personal experience that hiring for talent works out in the long run. I once hired a barista to be a veterinary assistant. She had absolutely no veterinary skills or experience, but she had talent. This new hire was (and still is) confident, a born leader, a driven and hard working person that was (and still is) eager to learn new things and be a part of something bigger. She applied and interviewed for a front desk position, but immediately upon interviewing her and seeing her with the team,

I knew she would pick up the skill set needed to work in the clinical environment of the hospital and be a leader while doing it. She quickly learned the necessary technical skills, got comfortable with the team and began leading the day to day work of others. She was recently promoted to a hospital lead position, and I have no doubt that she will keep growing.

If you happen to come across someone with both skills and talent, then of course go for it. But if you ever have the choice between skills/experience and talent, always, always, always pick talent! I promise you won’t regret it.

Written By: Jamie Ozga, CPO at Tantam Health, Inc.

About Tantam Health

Tantam Health specializes in onsite clinic, worksite clinics and nearsite clinics. Their innovative programs, advanced reporting capabilities, and unique structure of their team allows them to deliver customized solutions that exceed their client’s expectations. The company takes a team-based approach to their worksite healthcare delivery model, adhering to patient-centered medical home (PCMH) guidelines set forth by the NCQA. Learn more at

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