In his recent Wall Street Journal article, “Software Raises Bar for Hiring,” David Wessel raises some interesting talent acquisition questions: As candidate pools have grown exponentially in the struggling economy and screening processes have become more efficient and cost-effective through the use of various software solutions, have organizations become overly stringent in their job requirements? Are employers cutting training programs, and therefore costs, based on the idea that they will be able to find someone in the vast pool of available workers who have the skills they require?
It seems that many organizations make the mistake of setting forth myriad requirements in their job requisitions, which are then programmed into software solutions used to screen out candidates early in the selection process. As a result the organization fails to find anyone for the job. At the same time, unemployed workers apply to positions for which they believe they are well qualified only to find themselves dropped from the selection process based solely on an initial application or resume submission. In the end frustration abounds – organizations are frustrated by the lack of “qualified” talent, and job seekers are frustrated by organizations that eliminate them from the selection process based solely on an initial screen.
Individual organizations can take steps to increase the likelihood of finding the right person for the job, regardless of what that job might be.
1. Carefully define job requirements
If your organization is struggling to find qualified candidates, make sure you are evaluating the must-haves that an individual needs to be successful in the job. You might find that you have been focusing on nice-to-haves (additional years of experience, advanced degrees for jobs that don’t require them) that do not truly differentiate high and low performance on the job.
2. Focus on competencies, not experience
It is also important to consider what the employee needs day one on the job. Instead of looking for someone who has performed the exact same type of work before, focus on finding a candidate with the core competencies (knowledge, skills, abilities, and traits) required to be successful and supplement that talent with organization or job-specific training and education.
3. Take a whole employee life cycle approach
Organizations would also be wise to take a whole employee life cycle approach that includes recruitment, selection, development and retention. In some fields, such as engineering and IT, numerous opportunities are available to experienced workers, and organizations may find it hard to hold onto strong talent. When recruiting and hiring employees, ensure that the candidates you select are a good fit not just for a particular job, but also for your overall culture and work environment. Once employees are on the job, take steps to contribute to their professional development and keep them engaged. Depending on your structure this may include identifying high potentials to include in succession planning efforts, but don’t overlook middle-of-the-road performers who are your organization’s backbone – make sure they have opportunities to grow and develop their skills.
Talent acquisition and management are complex processes, but careful planning at each step will help your organization hire and retain the right talent. Using selection techniques that identify candidates with the potential for success and focusing on onboarding, development, and engagement post-hire will go a long way towards ending employers’ and job seekers’ frustration.