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Bad Match
Robert Half Survey: Executives Say Poor Skills Fit Most Common Reason New Hires Don't Work Out

MENLO PARK, CA, Sept. 29, 2011 -- For employers, determining a job applicant's skills fit is a skill in itself -- and one that, research suggests, isn't so easy to master. In a Robert Half Finance & Accounting survey, more than one-third (36 percent) of chief financial officers (CFOs) interviewed said the top factor leading to a failed hire, aside from performance issues, is a poor skills match.

The survey was developed by Robert Half Finance & Accounting, the world's first and largest specialized financial recruitment service. It was conducted by an independent research firm and is based on interviews with more than 1,400 CFOs from a stratified random sample of U.S. companies with 20 or more employees.

CFOs were asked, "Aside from poor performance, which one of the following factors is most likely to lead to a failed hire?" Their responses:

Mismatched skill set



Unclear performance expectations



Personality conflicts



Failure to fit into corporate culture



Don't know






"Companies can't afford hiring mistakes, which are costly and can erode staff morale," said Max Messmer, chairman and CEO of Robert Half International and author of Human Resources Kit For Dummies®, 2nd Edition (John Wiley & Sons, Inc.). "Finding the right match requires time and attention, and it's something even busy managers need to make time for."

Robert Half Finance & Accounting offers five tips for better hires:

  1. Know what you want. Don't just recycle the job description you used the last time you filled a position; chances are the role has changed. Take a fresh look at your needs and the skills you'd like to add to your team. A detailed job description will help reduce the number of resumes you receive from unqualified applicants.
  2. Look for the intangibles. A candidate's skill set is not limited to functional abilities -- it also includes how well he or she works in a collaborative environment. Employers that don't take soft skills such as leadership and communication into account may set themselves up for a bad match.
  3. Make a personal connection. Hiring is more than just identifying a strong resume or profile -- it involves having conversations with applicants to establish a rapport. Interviews, for example, allow you to delve deeper into an applicant's qualifications while also assessing whether he or she is a fit for your corporate culture.
  4. Tap all your resources. Though you may have the final say, hiring should never be a solo effort. Take advantage of the tools available to you at your organization -- for example, human resources can help with the job description, and your employees may be able to offer referrals.
  5. Woo your top choices. In any economy, people in high-demand specialties commonly have multiple job offers. You will need to show them why they should choose your organization. Sell the benefits of working with your firm, and offer a compensation package in line with -- or ideally, above -- market rates.

Added Messmer, "Working with a recruiter who specializes in a given field can help hiring managers identify job candidates with the appropriate skills. Most recruiting firms conduct skills testing, which provides added assurance a prospective employee's skills are a match."

About the Survey
The national study was developed by Robert Half Finance & Accounting. It was conducted by an independent research firm and is based on more than 1,400 telephone interviews with CFOs from a random sample of U.S. companies with 20 or more employees. For the study to be statistically representative and ensure that companies from all segments are represented, the sample was stratified by geographic region and number of employees. The results were then weighted to reflect the proper proportion of employees within each region.

About Robert Half Finance & Accounting
Founded in 1948, Robert Half Finance & Accounting, a division of Robert Half International, has more than 350 locations worldwide and offers online job search services at