Kristina FinsethNovember 06, 2017
Topics: Recruiter Experience

Hire First, Train Later

I used to work as a recruiter in the technology space hiring software developers. The company I worked for only considered candidates who fit a specific profile.

This meant the candidates had to have at least a Bachelor’s in Computer Science (ideally a Master’s in Computer Science), at least 2-3 years of experience working as a software developer, and in-depth knowledge of Python, PHP, or Ruby programming languages.

Seems like a simple and straight-forward profile, right?

Now, narrow that down to a very particular geographical area that isn’t considered a tech hot spot, and you’ve got a very small pool of candidates to work with that hit on all the criteria.

To avoid such limitations in an already tight tech candidate pool, organizations like Pinterest, Airbnb, and LinkedIn are taking candidates from atypical educational and professional backgrounds and training them to work in tech.

Tech is just one area where companies are focusing on training. Here are a few other companies taking a “hire first and train later” approach to filling the gaps within their teams.


It was big news this time last year when Amazon announced they would hire 25,000 veterans and military spouses over the next five years. Amazon followed up earlier this year by announcing its partnership with the U.S. Department of Labor in an effort to create an apprenticeship program.

This program will provide paid and on-the-job training for tech positions coupled with Amazon’s Joining Forces Initiative to train 10,000 more veterans in cloud computing skills as well.

Southwest Airlines

Sometimes it’s difficult to find a big organization that hires for attitude first, training the right person to do the job. However, that’s Southwest Airlines philosophy when it comes to hiring the right people into positions as flight attendants or even baggage handlers.

The first thing a candidate has to have is a “warrior spirit.” According to Sherry Phelps, former top executive in the People Department at Southwest Airlines, the organization prefers to hire teachers, waiters, or police officers into positions versus an airline veteran with the wrong attitude.


At one point, Apple reevaluated it’s hiring practices after realizing that potentially qualified candidates deserving of a second chance were being turned away from job opportunities to help build its new headquarters because they had been convicted of a felony in the last seven years.

As a result, Apple did away with this blanket rule in 2015 publicly stating they would address candidates on an individual case-by-case basis versus utilizing a blanket policy.

Hopefully more organizations will follow suit and start to see the value in considering candidates with a non-traditional background.

What do you think? Should more companies focus on hiring first and training later?

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