Hire for will, train for skill: U.S. Cellular's hiring philosophy

Posted by TheLadders

August 15, 2013

We recently sat down with U.S. Cellular's Senior Manager of Talent Acquisition, Courtney Jorgensen.

jm-courtney-jorgensenCourtney, we talk a lot of about the importance of cultural fit. How do you pre-screen prospective candidates for cultural fit? 

In HR and recruiting, we are the vanguards of our culture and we identify and acquire talent that demonstrates the values and behaviors of our Dynamic Organization, while also ensuring they possess the requisite skills for the role.  Regardless of function we utilize relevant customized selection tools that align to our organization’s, and role-specific competencies either leveraging technology for candidate prioritization, an online assessment and/or behavioral-based interview tools.

At JobMobile Chicago, you described U.S. Cellular’s recruitment philosophy as “hire for will, train for skill.” Can you explain this approach?

At U.S. Cellular®, not only is it important for our frontline associates within sales and customer service to possess the requisite skills for the role, it is critical to the success of our organization that they are willing to perform the role through the values and behaviors of our Dynamic Organization.  We created customized tools to select talent that demonstrated personality traits that aligned to our culture and role-based skills that would contribute to performance.  We believe strongly in training and development and all frontline associates complete a 4-7 week foundational learning program prior to moving to the floor and servicing our customers.

How has this practice changed over time?

It has evolved over time to meet the environmental, organization and cultural demands.  Removing some of the selection tools and automation have reduced process cycle time. Recruiters and leaders are empowered to build rapport with candidates through conversation leveraging customized behavioral-based tools that have alignment to our organization and role-specific competencies.  We continue to evaluate the appropriate balance of technology/automation with Human interaction.

While sourcing and recruiting practices evolve over time, the creation of our employment brand has given us an opportunity to message relevant insights pertaining to our Dynamic Organization. We have turned our culture inside out for candidates and prospective candidates to also make more informed decisions on if U.S. Cellular® is the right fit for them. From a sourcing perspective, Recruiters and hiring leaders are open to considering candidates that demonstrate a willingness to learn and have worked in a commissioned sales or customer service role although not specifically in wireless.

What are the benefits to this hiring philosophy? What are the challenges?

Our hiring philosophy fosters an environment for associates to enhance and evolve necessary skills required to keep pace with the ever-changing wireless industry.  One challenge is that hiring associates that have a passion for customer service yet lack the ability or willingness to increase their technical acumen can prove difficult for someone to thrive in this environment.  While the individual may be a great fit culturally and demonstrate the values and behaviors that we would expect for our Dynamic Organization, the inability to learn and apply complex information, embrace and navigate change, and/or the lack of technical acumen on the frontline can not only impact individual and company performance, but also their willingness to tolerate the role.

If another recruiter or employer was interested in doing something similar at their organization, what advice would give them?

There is no cookie cutter approach. Every company has their own culture, staffing philosophy and business strategy, and it’s important to create a talent attraction strategy inclusive of selection methodologies and tools that are right for your organization.  As we say in recruiting, there is no silver lining so diversification within your strategy and evolution of recruiting practices will be key to continue to attract, select, acquire and retain the right talent to move your business forward.

Thanks Courtney!

Courtney Jorgensen is the Senior Manager of Talent Acquisition for U.S. Cellularone of the largest wireless telecommunications network in the U.S. She is responsible for the talent-attraction strategy, social recruiting, talent assessment and selection, and operations for the sales organization. Courtney was a featured panelist in TheLadders JobMobile Chicago

Augustine_Amanda_2Amanda Augustine is the Job Search Expert for TheLadders. She provides job search and career guidance for professionals looking to make their next career move. Her keen understanding of job seekers’ habits also provides insight into how recruiters can best find and acquire top talent. Catch her moderating TheLadders’ talent acquisition event series, JobMobile, and follow her at @JobSearchAmanda on Twitter and “Like” her on Facebook for up-to-the-minute job-search advice.


Topics: Recruiting & Sourcing