What's Preventing You From Finding Qualified Candidates?

Time and time again, we hear that there's a lack of qualified candidates on the job market.  Despite record amounts of candidates entering the job market, this has been repeated by recruiters for months. In fact, recent studies have shown that recruiters feel it's harder to hire qualified candidates now than it was only 6 months ago.  But with an availability of so much talent in the marketplace, it should be relatively easy to find candidates.  Even passive candidates (approximately 75% of the workforce) are becoming interested in making moves.  It's time to audit your hiring process.  It could be that you're not finding qualified candidates because of the systems you've put in place.

Is Your Hiring Process Preventing You from Finding Qualified Candidates?

If you believe some recruiters, qualified candidates are a bit of an endangered species these days. Colleges didn't suddenly stop teaching critical thinking skills, reading, or math.  And candidates didn't suddenly stop becoming interested in finding a job to support themselves.  So what could really be at play here?  Let's examine how your hiring process could be preventing you from finding qualified candidates:

  • You have no employer brand. I love those anonymous Craigslist job postings that usually say something along the lines of "Top employer seeks top candidate for xyz role."  When you dig into the job posting, candidates come away confused.  When an employer doesn't stand behind their brand, it is a red flag to candidates.  These days, transparency is prized among candidates.  They want to be able to search the business online, read reviews, and come away with a sense of what it might like to work for that employer.  They don't want to be in the dark about a new job.
  • The job description is generic. Ideally, all candidates will be great communicators who play well with others. But often times, the job description is so bland and generic that a candidate can't seem to get a sense for what they would actually be doing on a day to day basis.  Yes, you're seeking a Product Evangelist, but what does that mean? How would they be spending their time? Candidates want to be able to envision whether they would really be successful or satisfied in the role prior to applying.
  • You place cultural fit above ability. Often times, when there's a problem with a workplace's culture, they shift gears in recruiting.  You start to see the hiring managers looking for someone with the right attitude to fit in. However, attitude doesn't always equate with a candidate's aptitude to perform the job.  You can hire the nicest person in the world to do your payroll, but if they don't know the basics of the job, they could be doing more harm than good in their position.  It's important that the recruiting team focus on finding a candidate that has a high aptitude to do the job first and then assess whether the candidate could conceivably fit into the team without disruption.
  • You hire in your own image. Many hiring managers are guilty of hiring someone they see as a reflection of themselves.  It's human nature to want to relate to someone, but it doesn't predict that the person will be a qualified candidate.  Yes, they may be from a similar background, but does that background include the most important skills required for the job?
  • Soft skills aren't prioritized.  Soft skills can be critical to a candidate's success in a new position.  But they are often way down the list of characteristics a qualified candidate would possess.  Skills like critical thinking should be considered critical to professional jobs.  You can teach an employee to do a job, but its his or her critical thinking skills which will determine the positive or poor choices they make towards success in the role.
  • Only exact matches in years of experience are considered. There really is very little difference between an employee with 9 years of experience and 10 years.  But many recruiters make these arbitrary decisions that lead to qualified candidates being rejected.  Is an employee with 9 years on the job and advanced skills truly less desirable than someone who has 10 years of experience and no crossover skills?

Qualified candidates are out there and they're active in the job market right now.  But it may be that your hiring process is preventing your recruiting team from recognizing their value.  It's time to take a look at revamping the process from recruitment to hire.  Don't let qualified candidates slip through your fingers because you've set up the recruiting process to exclude them for some arbitrary reason.

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Comment by Eric Putkonen on September 16, 2015 at 7:26pm

Great article, Catherine!

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