Tailoring Talented People to the Positions They Best Fit

In the workforce, should we be finding talented people and tailoring positions to them, or should we be tailoring talented people to the specific position? Actually, we need to do both, but we need to start with finding talented people. While tailoring individuals to specific job roles involves understanding the skill set, experience, and personality traits required for success in that position, tailoring positions to the right person involves understanding that person’s strengths, preferences, and work style. You have talent, and you need to train people to be able to perform in roles you may not even be aware of yet.

According to the Journal of Vocational Behavior, “Career customization has been suggested as a sustainable solution to the mismatch between traditional career models and the needs of today’s workforce.”¹ Imagine how the specific customization of both position and talent could improve the workforce. It could easily increase job satisfaction, productivity, and overall performance by creating a better fit between the person and the role. 

This approach would change the way resumes “could be.” What if we could capture people’s learning potential, their strengths in a different spatial capacity, or their mathematics, visual or personal relations skill sets and capabilities? By identifying innate strengths and complementing them with job-specific skills we can yield great results. This customization will enhance engagement, promote diversity, and maximize productivity by leveraging each individual’s abilities effectively. 

As an employer, you should be saying, what I need is someone who has these three specific skill sets and that are strong in these capabilities, as opposed to looking at the degrees or the classes they took. Success in the workforce is really about someone’s capability and drive. If we could have resumes representing capability and drive instead, then employers would hire that person and know they can develop them to do all that the employer needs (as long as the employee is interested in that sector and willing to learn). A well-written resume that can demonstrate someone’s capabilities will grab attention, showcase potential value, and increase chances of success in that workplace. Job seeking and hiring would be a whole different world (and not as onerous). Happy employees are productive and fulfilled employees.

This goes back to the curated education I wrote about in a previous blog. A curated education refers to a personalized and carefully selected learning experience.  It is tailored to the recent graduate’s specific interests, needs, and goals. The individual can choose relevant courses, resources, and learning materials to create a customized educational journey.  The aim is to provide a more effective and engaging learning experience by focusing on what is most relevant and important to the learner that there will also be a market for.  However, it will take a massive movement, likely beyond my powers, to change the U.S. university system to be based on capabilities. That being said, I am of strong belief that this targeted learning leads to deeper understanding, increased motivation, and a better application of knowledge in real-world scenarios, thereby enhancing the workplace experience for all. 

This is not just theory.  It has been my experience when coming into a new workplace or restructuring around specific goals this happens.  One recent experience involved a talented individual who desired to come work for our organization.  We didn’t have a role open for them.  We held exploratory interviews to better gauge both capabilities and interests.  In the end, we created a position that would both meet their desires and the growth and impact goals of our company.  We both did a little bit of aligning and the result – win-win!

Tailoring both the person for the position and the position for the person is the solution for workplace performance. If we can identify the talent in the individual by assessing their skills, performance, and potential, we can then tailor the positions for them which allows them to thrive in their work environment. It is about recognizing a person’s unique skills and creating roles that align with their capabilities and ambitions. In the end, it benefits both the individual and the organization. Work and business succeed through aligning and growing their people and organizational capabilities.

¹ Caroline Straub et al. “Career Customization: Putting an Organizational Practice to Facilitate Sustainable Careers to the Test,” Journal of Vocational Behavior, Volume 117, March 2020, accessed January 1, 2024, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0001879119300843.