Now is a Good Time to Expand Your Candidate Pool

With more than 14 million people having lost their job since February, there suddenly is a massive labor pool searching for a job. As shutdowns recede and businesses open back up, more job opportunities will arise, presenting a long-term opportunity for employers to get people back to work and into new fields.

In recent years, employers have missed out on quality talent by enforcing overly rigid candidate requirements. Where once companies only recruited from within their industry or for highly specific skill sets, companies now have the opportunity to cast a wider net.

Behavior, not background, defines employee value. The rigidity of candidate requirements can vary by company and position, and for a number of different reasons. In many cases, thresholds are handed down by human resources to comply with a particular business goal.

But in every case, a candidate’s qualifications cease to matter as much once they’re on the job. Even in a buyer’s market for talent, educational attainment and years of prior experience don’t drive value as much as how well a given employee can apply their knowledge to the task at hand. Companies should assess what the day-to-day job looks like and what skills are really required to successfully complete those tasks.

This philosophical approach to the hiring process — seeking candidates based on behaviors rather than on-paper qualifications — helps bring in employees who fit culture and drive value more effectively.

The most valuable skills are transferable. A great employee tends to be great everywhere they go. Regardless of a candidate’s qualifications or expected role, their value on the job comes down to a few key skills such as attention to detail, problem-solving and communication. These could have been developed through experience in any industry.

If your company built a robust new-hire training process to help upskill less experienced candidates from a much thinner labor pool pre-coronavirus, use it. Keep hiring searches open to candidates from a wider range of backgrounds who have demonstrated exceptional ability with those key value-driving skills. Be sure to implement a strong onboarding process to ensure that new hires are able to effectively apply transferable skills to their new role.

PREMIUM CONTENT: US Staffing Industry Pulse Survey Report: August 2020 Selected Highlights

Build a culture of active upskilling. One of the best ways for companies to survive and thrive in an era marked by big changes is to build a nimble workforce full of curious, adaptable people.

Wherever your organization finds itself up against a skills gap for new hires, there’s an opportunity to prioritize candidates who demonstrate motivation to learn on the job. By expanding your applicant base to include experience in other industries, you’re more likely to find candidates who have already proven themselves capable of learning new skills in a previous position.

Bringing in multiple people from a broad range of professional backgrounds who share a desire to build their skillset will influence the culture of your organization and build momentum towards continuous learning, teaching and informal mentorship.

Multiple perspectives improve team problem-solving. When employees with a range of backgrounds collaborate to solve a problem, a diversity of perspectives can be a huge asset. By hiring people from different industries, companies open the door to a ream of possibilities —you get a new set of eyes and a new solution.

Even in the “new normal” of an upside-down labor market, companies can’t afford the risk of overlooking an amazing source of new talent. No matter what industry you’re in or how readily available your applicant pool is, you still run the risk of missing the best possible candidate because of rigid job requirements.

Candidates with core transferable skills can succeed in almost any job. By expanding your candidate pool, even now, your company will develop a more well-rounded and responsive workforce that incorporates a diverse set of skills and perspectives.


Robert Barsamian

Robert Barsamian
Robert Barsamian is Aerotek's delivery solutions executive.

Robert Barsamian

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