A survey of Oxfordshire employers by the Oxford-based recruitment consultancy Allen Associates has found that the largest proportion (47%) consider a good fit with their firm’s existing culture and teams ranks more highly in their estimations of candidate suitability than experience, skills and qualifications.

The findings may be particularly interesting to Umbrella Company Employees and other flexible professionals, as contracting frequently involves entering teams for time-limited periods to complete specific assignments. The possession of these ‘softer’ skills alongside the formal skills sets that professional contractors always bring with them could clearly be a significant, and perhaps hitherto underestimated, advantage in securing new assignments.

A candidate’s ability to fit in with the existing culture was seen by these employers as not merely desirable but also as their number one priority.

Allen Associates’ MD, Kate Allen, said that she wasn’t surprised to find employers valuing personal attributes over skills and experience, as the latter can be acquired or created through training. One employer considered fitting in with the existing culture and team to be “crucial and a key recruitment criteria”.

Ms Allen went on to say that her company’s business and reputation had been built over 15 years on meticulously matching “the right candidate to the right role within the right organisation.”

She continued: “Every candidate is different and every vacancy has its own special set of circumstances, which is why we interview every candidate and client in person before we make any recommendations. The market for quality candidates is becoming increasingly challenging, so it’s good to hear that businesses are looking at the person rather than just their CV.”

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