5 hiring ‘non-negotiables’ that really should be negotiable

We get it: hiring is stressful. By the time you’re looking for someone new, the chances are you’re already underresourced and overstretched. And it’s expensive – not only to find new talent, but also to train them – which means it’s really important to get it right first time.

So we understand why hiring managers, HR managers and recruiters often have a list of ‘must-haves’ as long as their arm. But in our experience here at Lightning, some ‘non-negotiables’ might be getting in the way of you finding the right fit for your team… 

  1. A least X years’ experience

As we see it, the ‘right fit’ is a triangle made up of experience, skills and – most importantly – attitude. Experience can be gained. Skills can be taught. But, in most cases, the right attitude is something you’ve either got or you haven’t. Holding out for all three could take a) time you don’t have, b) money you don’t have (or want to spend… see point below), and c) will put you in steep competition with literally every other travel and hospitality brand out there.

So, open your mind. There’s oodles of incredible talent out there if you’re willing to consider out-of-industry professionals with transferable skills, highly mouldable entry-level candidates, or even just seasoned travel and hospitality people with a bit less time in the saddle. What experience is truly crucial for this role? Perhaps a fresh pair of eyes could be just what you need?

  1. Full-time office working

Lockdown proved chaining people to a desk in an office building for set hours every day isn’t the only way (or necessarily even a good way) to drive productivity. Fair enough, there are some roles where remote working and flexible hours just won’t work; but there are also plenty where it can. Ask yourself: can this role accommodate it?

According to CareerBuilder,  jobs allowing employees to work remotely received seven times more applications than in-person roles the previous month; while a study showed nearly 40% of global candidates report workplace flexibility is among the top three factors they consider. Not only could increased flexibility help you attract and retain top talent, it could also increase productivity and support a more diverse and inclusive workforce. Plus, you get to meet everyone’s dogs on Zoom – what’s not to like?

  1. Degree-educated

Newsflash: degrees are not the be-all and end-all when it comes to hiring top talent. Sure, vocational training might come in handy, but can you explain to us how an in-depth knowledge of, say, archeology is going to make someone better at a job in travel and hospitality…?

Endless curiosity. Excellent attention to detail. A knack for building human relationships. These are the skills that truly make someone a hospitalitarian – and they, friends, can all be gained at the university of life.

  1. Fluent English

It’s estimated around 8% of the UK workforce don’t speak English as their first language – and we’re betting the proportion is higher in the travel and hospitality industry. Aside from ruling out a sizable chunk of your talent pool, insisting candidates speak note-perfect, fluent English could be discriminatory. (And let’s be real: how many of us actually speak perfect English?)

As Intrepid Travel’s Zina Bencheikh (she/her) told us, “having people from different backgrounds, bringing different perspectives, is the secret to a successful team.” With different backgrounds and cultures come different languages – and isn’t that part of what makes travel and hospitality such a vibrant, exciting industry to work in? Plus, having a multilingual team is a huge bonus when you’re dealing with an international client-base.

  1. Below-average salary

Right now it’s a candidate’s market, which means you need to work harder to make your offer appealing. And, in the current cost-of-living sh*t-show, it’s unsurprising research by Indeed and Glassdoor showed higher pay was the number-one consideration for almost a third of candidates.

There are some things a recruiter can’t solve for you. Of course, you could keep paying the bare minimum… But then you’ll keep losing out on the best talent. Even if you do convince someone half-decent to join your team, they’ll soon jump ship if (and when) a competitor offers more. Where would you rather sink your budget: into continuously hiring and training new talent, or paying great people fairly so they’re happier, more productive, and stay with you longer? It’s a no-brainer.


Here at Lightning, we get to know your business properly and meet every candidate to make sure they not only have the skills, experience and attitude to get the job done, but will also contribute to your company culture and growth. So if we put forward a candidate who doesn’t technically tick every single box, trust us: it’s because we think they’re pretty special.

Struggling to find a teammate to complete your squad? From consulting on role specs – including what non-negotiables you really need – to advising on salaries and making sure a successful candidate is all set up for day one, Lightning is here to help with everything from start to finish. Get in touch to find out more. In the meantime, enjoy our Thunder Thea Bardot interviewing Jay, the Founder of Imagen Insights for his tips on all things Gen Z in the workforce.

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Thea Bardot

17th July

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