With employers struggling with hiring in a tight job market, many are rethinking their requirements to fill roles. There’s a lot of competition for top talent, so skills and experience that were deemed essential just a few years ago are now considered “nice to have” rather than necessary.
So how should hiring managers respond to a climate in which talent is increasingly scarce? Here are three suggestions.
Hire for high potential rather than experience
It’s easy to see why employers would prefer experienced candidates. Seasoned professionals can get up to speed quickly and start producing work with a minimal investment of time and money for training. Plus, experience is relatively easy to assess by looking back at a person’s past roles and responsibilities. It’s more difficult to determine potential since it involves looking forward.
Are you looking for experienced candidates? Only a small percentage of people will have the exact skills you require for an open position. If you hire for potential, you’ll have a much larger pool of candidates from which to make your final selection.
To make it work, look for innate soft skills. These include the ability to work well with co-workers and deal professionally with clients. During interviews, get candidates talking about goals they’ve accomplished, problems they’ve solved, or the last thing they took the initiative to learn. These questions will help you get a read on potential indicators and valuable traits like learning agility, resilience, communication, collaboration and time management.
Consider job sharing
What happens when a vacant role truly requires specific skills, education, experience or credentials that you’re not able to find in one candidate? In that case, pick the candidate who meets most of your prerequisites and bring on another worker to handle the rest. Essentially, you’ll split the job in two.
Many employers are hesitant to allow job sharing because it comes with some unique challenges. When two employees are sharing a job, they need to have compatible work styles to keep clients, coworkers and each other informed. It can also be more expensive than hiring one person for the role, especially if you provide full benefits to both employees.
However, more employees today are looking for part-time or flexible work. If you can provide that, you’ll open up your candidate pool to people who don’t want to work full time. This often includes parents returning to the workforce, workers with disabilities and employees who simply want more flexibility to build a side hustle or pursue other passions. As a bonus, you’ll two brains; two enthusiastic and creative individuals who are committed to your organization’s success.
Focus on training
Once you’ve recruited high-potential candidates who are passionate about your vision for the company, invest in ongoing training and development programs for both technical skills and soft skills like communication, leadership and time management.
Invest in a good program for teaching role-specific skills as a part of the on-boarding process. Training videos and online or mobile learning modules can help employees learn the basics. Working alongside veteran employees will help them fill in the gaps and get hands-on experience quickly.
It may take more time for newcomers to become productive. But keep in mind, even experienced new hires take some time to get up to speed. When you focus on identifying skills adjacencies and providing employees with opportunities to gain skills needed to fill talent gaps, you’ll not only have a larger pool of talent from which to hire, but you’ll also have a better shot at retaining good people over time.
Today’s tight labor market has employers going above and beyond to attract the talent they need. At this stage of the game, all of the easy-to-employ people are taken. You may be able to pay a premium to lure star performers away from the competition, but if you develop an eye for potential, get creative and focus on building your own top talent, some of those “hard-to-employ” people could make excellent employees.
To understand the workforce hiding in plain sight, check out our Secret Workforce Report.