Quality Vs. Qualifying

Rick Rodgers
HR/Payroll Supervisor
Southern Hills Skilled Nursing & Rehab

Recently in a conversation, discussing the difference between a candidate’s qualifications and qualities of potential applicant processes, how it might affect the selection process for the best person for the job. Several concerns came into consideration.

We all know the difference between the two words, and we know that certain key positions require certain qualifications. However, beyond the basics, where is the flexibility and considerations in hiring new talent? When looking at non degreed positions, like support services: dietary, housekeeping and even some office support roles, how does a hiring manager determine the best candidate?

Before we get started, we need to clarify the word qualities. Qualities are generally viewed in light of personal abilities that can be used in place of standard learned concepts found in books. These tend to be also viewed as soft skills, or how a person is wired or motivated. Qualities that include being on time, detailed oriented, effective communication, problem solving and other personality driven strengths.

We know from experience that there are two methods of general learning, book smart and or street smart. We have also seen people with either one of these methods either excel or fail. Wither a person can display things obtained from what they have from institutional learning; or the ability to navigate through challenges presented in daily living, from within personal experiences or how they are wired to think. Which one makes the best fit?

We generally look at a person’s resume and assume that what is listed is the absolute best representation of what they have to offer. Now if the student has spent two to four years in a class room setting and they received instruction in resume development then we see their skills and ability in learning. But once again for the one applying for a position that didn’t require a class room setting or the one that has never gone beyond high school, this can put the applicant at a disadvantage. A person who has not learned standard resume writing skills can put them at a disadvantage, because the hiring manager needs to make an assessment on a face-to-face interview.

Case in point, a person with a learning disability or struggles within new settings because of shyness or anxiety at first, but has great reasoning skills, within the right environment, can actually thrive. A person with book smarts or certifying training might display confidence but lack reasoning in application, people interaction and even problem-solving skills.

Two people are applying for an entry level position, both graduated from high school, but only one had the ability to obtain post high school vocational training, and acquire certification in stripping floors. They know how to handle the machine with hours of training, but fail to process the concept that obstacles or people in hall ways may mean applying different techniques or changing who the buffer is handled. Take the staff hired with no official training and is actually learning for the first time on the job, in a non-class room perfect environment.

The food service worker with a certificate in food safety handling, but might not know how to prioritize peek operation times for production. In that setting they know how long they have in a process but not know when is the best time to start that particular task. A dietary director once told me that even though the basic ServSafe certification is good, they were only interested in getting a cook on staff with healthcare cooking experience. Learning basics in an educational setting though it might be rewarding might be minimal help when working in support service roles which can be different because work flow processes will determine the best course of action. In this case experience is preferred and tide closely to qualities than qualifications.

In conclusion, when discussing supportive role positions how important is the mindset of training and certifications? Will qualifications always take a higher persistence over personal qualities? Does the resume really make the applicant? At the end are we looking for structure and flexibility, learning new habits or fixing learned? Which one is the better for what you are looking for in your next new hired candidate?