Hire Attributes Train the Skills

by Steven Allard
spectrum apprentice with positive attitude

Not all candidates are created equal.  There are applicants who will apply to and take your job just because they need a job and will take any job. They are candidates who on paper appear to have the education and qualifications to do the job. Once hired, you observe they are just going through the motions and coasting along. Sure they always show up to work on time and do exactly (and only) what is asked, but they also always leave right on time. In five years, they will still be there doing their same consistent job.  Now there are definitely jobs when doing the bare minimums is enough. However, in most cases that is not what employers are looking for or expecting from members on their team.

spectrum it consultant in a business meeting

Now consider the alternative candidates, individuals who on paper may not have the initial skills you are looking for, but who IMHO possess something much more valuable. They possess a PASSION for learning and DESIRE to grow. They want to advance and excel. They apply to and accept your job because they really want your job. They want to contribute beyond just doing their job. They want to help innovate and improve efficiency. They are chock full of ideas but haven’t had the opportunity to demonstrate their potential because no one was willing to give them the chance. Spectrum gives them that chance!

Spectrum’s apprenticeship program

Spectrum hires and trains apprentices for fulltime roles with our partners. The individuals hired will work in the areas of software engineering, application development, data science, or cybersecurity to name a few.  In no case, at the time they are hired into Spectrum’s apprenticeship program, do our employees possess all required skills for their future position with our partners.  What they all do possess is a passion for learning and the drive to excel.  They are genuinely thankful for the opportunity Spectrum provides them to showcase what they are capable of accomplishing and for the twelve months of free training, they will receive. They demonstrate appreciation through their high level of engagement and diligence.

skilled spectrum apprentice

Throughout my talent acquisition career, I have tried to get hiring managers to broaden the lens through which they consider candidates. I have tried to get managers to “screen in” candidates versus “screening out” candidates. Take a look at this post and you will get the idea. I ask they look beyond mere resume buzzwords and take into account the whole person and to consider what may not be obvious. Look for the incredible potential they can bring to the table.  Too often recruiters and managers look solely for buzzwords and just “check the boxes”.  If not met, they quickly dismiss what could potentially be outstanding employees. Unless we are hiring a piece of paper, we should look beyond the paper resume and look at the whole person.

Attitude, Aptitude, and Attributes

So, what is Spectrum looking for if we are looking beyond buzz words and checkboxes?  At Spectrum, we hire Attitude, Aptitude, and Attributes then train any required skills. These are very similar to what one of my mentors, Dave Barbato the CEO of Talent Retriever, looks for when he hires: Accountability, Affability, Adaptability, and Attitude. Spectrum bridges the gap between education and what employers require.


  • The right attitude is key to employee success and supporting corporate culture.
  • Basic values and self-image begin forming when we are young.
  • Attitudes are fortified or waned by observing others and then making personal decisions on what we feel is best.
  • What we observe plays a role in our unconscious reactions to stimuli from our environment and circumstances.
  • People are not however merely “victims” of their environment or circumstance and are still PEOPLE. We must evaluate people as individuals, not on their circumstances and environment.
  • If you to have choose only one, consider choosing the right attitude over intelligence. Intelligence is a skill that can be learned if the aptitude to learn is there.
confident spectrum employee


  • It is what comes naturally.
  • Some people have strong athletic aptitude others have a strong theoretical/problem solving aptitude, others have a highly analytical aptitude.
  • With the right aptitude, skills can be taught.
  • What aptitudes (not just skills) are important in your roles?


  • A quality or characteristic of a person – it is how you describe someone.
  • At Spectrum, we look for attributes such as: passionate, persistent, confident, accountable, adaptable, positive, hardworking, goal-oriented, self-starter, intellectually curious, and independent to name a few.
  • What type of person are you – Myers-Briggs Type Indicator?
  • If you look back, how would you describe yourself when you were up and coming?
  • How would you describe your ideal employee to someone else?

Any similarities between the description of yourself and the attitudes, aptitudes, and attributes you are looking to hire?

Spectrum looks to identify individuals

Not everyone is a professional resume writer or has one at their disposal. Many in under-represented or under-served communities/demographics do not get the opportunity to showcase their potential because they are immediately dismissed due to their resume. When interviewing apprentices for Spectrum, we look beyond skills (things that can be taught) and look at Attitudes, Aptitudes, and Attributes. This requires a conversation.  Only from a conversation can you delve into someone’s drivers and motivators and create a holistic overview of a candidate’s potential.

Through our personal interview, focusing on behaviors and transferable life experience, Spectrum looks to identify individuals with the right attitude, aptitude and attributes to excel.  As professional interviewers, it is OUR responsibility to craft and ask well thought out questions. These questions should focus on eliciting responses that exemplify the attitudes, aptitudes, and attributes which indicate future success.  Spectrum then leverages an online assessment to support or contradict our initial impressions. Inconsistencies prompt a follow-up discussion to resolve variations.

young attractive female with curly hair

As talent professionals, who have “actually spoken” to our candidates, it is our responsibility to help managers see beyond the resume and ameliorate initial negativity. We must effectively demonstrate how the attitudes, aptitudes, and attributes we brought to light during our interview outweigh any perceived shortcomings by not checking all the skill buzzwords and checkboxes.

We are in the people business and need to help each other grow and advance.  As managers, developing our team members begins with first getting them on our team!

Picture credits for this article:

182219757 © Wayhome Studio – stock.adobe.com

175716340 © fizkes – stock.adobe.com

316396172 © glowonconcept – stock.adobe.com

287896534 © Mangostar – stock.adobe.com

299973533 © Wayhome Studio – stock.adobe.com

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