Talent, in the most basic terms, is skill or aptitude. Talent is generally easy to quantify and measure—both its existence and its absence. Grit, on the other hand, can be slightly harder to define. To me, it’s the stuff that cowboys are made of. It’s sort of a hardness and fortitude of character—an unashamed resolve. I suppose my image of this gritty cowboy is somewhat born out of the recent movie starring Jeff Bridges, aptly titled “True Grit.” So, which will get you farther in today’s job market: measurable skills or unyielding determination?
Let’s start by looking at what types of job openings dominate the market today.
Go ahead—try it. Log-on to Careerbuilder.com and see which industries are hiring in your area. I did, and the top five happen to be: Management, Sales, Health Care, Information Technology, and Engineering. Just for fun, I looked up ten major cities across the US, only to find the same five reign throughout (with the exception of a few (like Nashville and Phoenix), where Customer Service outranks Engineering).
Management and Sales may not require a specific degree or career path, but they certainly beg for a very particular set of skills. The remaining industries—Health Care, Information Technology, and Engineering—demand specific (often high-level) training, degrees and certifications. We could, however, also argue that talent alone is not enough to stand out in these industries. Take sales for example. A salesperson is hired because he or she has a base-level ability to sell. In order to make it to the top of any sales charts, however, he or she has to be hard-nosed, resilient–even ruthless.
So, with that said, back to our question: will it take talent or grit to get someone out of the unemployment line?
Manpower, who publishes quarterly employment outlook reports, found talent to be the clear winner. “Despite high unemployment, employers globally face an impending challenge to find the right talent. According to Manpower Group’s 2011 Talent Shortage Survey, one in three respondents report difficulty filling vacant roles, while 28 percent of employers report a lack of experience in candidates as a key barrier to filling vacancies,” claims their Q1, 2012 report.
Many recent jobs reports (like Manpower) claim that employers want, yet can’t seem to find, employees who are highly-skilled, or highly-talented, in their given fields. But, might the candidate with adequate skill who has mustered the tenacity to survive months of unemployment, be equally desirable? It takes talent to puff up a resume and “get noticed,” but perhaps grit is what it really takes to bring a person’s character to the next level. Maybe a bit of added courage is all that sets two candidates of equal skill apart.
We don’t have the answer, so we’d like to see what you think. What has been your experience as an employer or job seeker on this one?
(And, If you’d like to find out just how gritty you are, here’s a short quiz.)