Finding and hiring the best candidates is highly competitive in today’s hiring landscape. About 73% of employers have been struggling to find the right candidates for their open positions, and this trend shows no signs of stopping – in fact, companies anticipate needing to hire even more people in 2019.
When it comes to sourcing great candidates, there are a lot of great ways to maximize your results – you can prioritize using job boards that have given you the best results in the past; you can revamp your employee referral program; or you can use recruiting services for highly-skilled roles. The exact strategies you use to source candidates depend heavily on your industry and the types of positions you need to fill.
But improving your sourcing tactics can only get you so far. Despite your best efforts, you may still suffer from small candidate pools, or even just a group of candidates who simply don’t have the right set of skills for the job. When you’ve exhausted your sourcing efforts, sometimes it helps to take a harder look at the candidates you DO have, and try to see them through a different lens. When you take the time to truly evaluate each of your candidates based on their potential to succeed in a role, you may find a couple of hidden gems that have been right beneath your nose the entire time.
Before you can open yourself up to the possibility that some of your candidates may in fact be a great fit, you need to take a long and hard look at the requirements you’re currently listing in your job descriptions. Go through each and everyone, and truly question whether or not that requirement is necessary. You may think your applicant needs to have previous experience with a particular software, but maybe it’s possible that they could easily learn to use it through training. You may also think that your candidate has to have previous experience in your particular industry, but it’s certainly possible that a candidate could jump into this industry quickly based on transferable skills they picked up in a different role. Don't overlook candidates who don't check a certain box unless you are absolutely certain that the skill is necessary for the position. (Side note – by cutting down on some of your requirements, you’re also more likely to get more applicants in general, improving your sourcing efforts at the same time).
When it comes to evaluating a candidate who doesn’t have the exact skill set you originally had in mind, it’s important to be able to evaluate that candidate across other relevant dimensions. What you’re really looking for is some indication of that candidate’s potential to excel in that role. One of the best ways to identify potential is through pre-employment assessments that measure critical, but general, qualities. Cognitive aptitude, for example, is one quality that is highly predictor of on-the-job performance because it is associated with things like critical thinking, problem solving, and learning ability. In other words, cognitive aptitude provides a strong signal for how quickly a candidate will pick up on training and grow in their role. Having a strong signal from a cognitive aptitude assessment could give you the confidence to take a chance on a stretch candidate whose resume wasn’t necessarily the perfect fit.
Personality can also provide a strong indication of potential, particularly for roles that are strongly associated with a particular personality profile (think sales, customer service, or software engineering.) If your candidate’s personality profile is a good match for a role, you have another good signal that your candidate could excel in that role, even if they’ve never done it before.
The point is that sometimes resumes can be a little limiting, for both job candidates and for employers. A candidate’s past job experience doesn’t accurately project their potential to be successful in the future; it only represents their past experiences based on their limited opportunities so far. By looking beyond job experience, you can start to use other signals of talent to identify great candidates. This helps you maximize the value of your candidate pool, and enables you to spot a few diamonds in the rough who could turn out to be some of your best employees.