When it makes sense to hire for skills, over aptitude

Sometimes what I need is a super hero.

When I’m hiring people, I almost always focus on aptitude over skills. All else equal, I’ll take someone with a keen desire and ability to learn new things, over one who can run kubectl in 50 different scenarios from memory.

But there is one exception to this rule.

Sometimes what I need is a super hero. Someone to save the day. Someone who can swoop in, do a job, and be out again.

Usually, these are freelance contracts that last anywhere from a few hours (fix this nasty bug) to a few months (implement this new database system for us).

In such cases, I honestly don’t care about their learning ability. I’m not hiring them to be a long-term, contributing member of the team. I’m hiring them for the skills they already have. And I’m probably paying a lot for those skills (at least on an hourly basis).

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