If you’re a recruiter, you’ll be very familiar with this daily struggle: managers in your organization want better and better talent and they need it yesterday, yet great talent is increasingly hard to find. In today’s ‘buyers’ market’, the candidate is king and that demands fresh thinking from recruiters.
Taking the same approach as you’ve always done is not going to help you meet the talent demands of your organization, not today and definitely not tomorrow. In many ways, this is good news. The time has never been better to shake things up a little.
We need to redefine qualified when it comes to recruitment.
Look for potential not perfection
Consider this: people with potential for upskilling may only need to have an 80% match to your success profile. The key to securing the right talent is knowing who has the potential to develop and which behaviors and skills define success in a particular role. It’s not about perfection today, but about the potential to be perfect (at least as far as your organization is concerned!).
Take cybersecurity as an example. Finding experienced cybersecurity talent is incredibly hard, and it’s set to get worse. It is estimated that by 2022 there will be 1.8 million unfilled cybersecurity jobs.5 It would be counter-productive to lower your recruiting standards just to fill open positions but looking for people with potential to become great cybersecurity professionals, even if they don’t have all the technical skills right now, can be a good option. This approach can significantly expand your potential talent pool, but it needs to be evidence-based. Use a validated assessment to identify potential and remove the risks of relying on gut feel.
A word of caution: this is not about lowering standards. No one is going to thank you for finding candidates that just don’t fit the bill. This is about knowing exactly what you’re looking for and being able to hire for potential, knowing those new recruits will become your perfect employees of tomorrow.
Beware of bias
Just as redefining qualified is not about lowering standards, it should not be about unfairness either. Bias — conscious or unconscious — can derail efforts to build diverse and inclusive workplaces. AI has huge potential to facilitate unbiased decision-making, if it’s built and deployed in the right way.6
If you’re struggling to get enough good candidates into your hiring process, bias that shrinks your talent pool is going to make things even harder. And when bias shrinks your talent pool, it has nothing to do with candidate ability.
Ensuring your processes are as open and inclusive as possible starts with candidate attraction. Put the wrong message out there, and you could cut your potential talent pool dramatically. For example, if the wording of a job description is predominantly masculine, it can deter women from applying – immediately you’ve reduced your potential talent pool by 50%.
Bias can find its way into the interview process as well as managers use ‘gut feel’ to select their preferred candidates. Intelligent interviewing means bringing more objectivity into the process to both eliminate bias and hire well against that new definition of qualified. AI-driven, structured interview guides based on the skills, aptitude and knowledge for each particular role can help managers treat all applicants fairly. More than that, it’s risky to rely on the traditional face-to-face interview alone. Validated assessments provide the objective view that recruiters need to inform hiring decisions.
Degree not required
Let’s get ambitious now. We’ve talked about not shrinking your talent pool by avoiding bias. How about we make that talent pool bigger?
Many jobs have a stated prerequisite of a degree, but as we look to redefine qualified, we must ask ourselves whether a degree is really necessary in every case. Remove the need for a degree and your talent pool immediately gets bigger. Once again, this is not about reducing quality, but asking yourself – is a degree really a determinant of a great candidate for this role?
For example, for many technical roles IBM now looks at candidates who have hands-on experience via a coding boot camp or an industry-related vocational class, rather than a college degree. When you redefine qualified, you focus on skills, not just qualifications. If someone has the skill you need, then does it really matter whether they have a degree or not?