Job Doc: Why are firms reluctant to train new hires?

Q. It seems to me that employers are incredibly picky and selective when hiring new employees. No company seems willing to train anymore. No company has the patience for a new employee to learn a skill. Do you agree? Or is this just my personal experience?

A. For the most part, I agree with you. Quite a few larger companies have formalized training and development programs that can teach new employees specific skills. Some outsource this function to vendors able to provide more specialized training in a required skill. Training, however, costs money, and most companies would prefer to hire employees who already have the required skills.


In general, smaller companies don’t have internal training and development because of limited budgets. As a result, they are most selective regarding required skills.

Most jobs within US workplaces have greater technical demands than they did 15 to 20 years ago. A corporate recruiter is a good example.

In the ’80s, candidates mailed resumes and the inbox on the corner of a recruiter’s desk would be stuffed with paper — resumes, cover letters, and even letters of reference. Now, most resumes are received via e-mail or online employment application systems.

Resume tracking systems and Human Resources Information Systems require some technical proficiency so the recruiter can find candidates in the system. Larger organizations will often have an HRIS expert in-house who can train new employees, but smaller organizations may not have the resources to do it.

Of course, with either a large or small company, a candidate with this knowledge would have an advantage. Some may argue that it is a skill that can be learned, but many companies, large and small, have a sense of urgency and want a new hire to “hit the ground running.”

Many candidates take a proactive approach to working with these selective employers. When possible, candidates will often train themselves prior to applying for highly technical jobs, either through seminars or certificate programs.


Patricia Hunt Sinacole is president of First Beacon Group, a human resources consulting firm in Hopkinton.