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Hiring? 3 Reasons to Reconsider Your "Rejects" Pile

A recent study suggests you might need to toss out old notions of who's the best fit for the job.
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Think you know all there is to know about hiring? A new trove of data from the analytics firm Evolv's quarterly workforce report suggests three reasons that might make you want to take a second look at your "rejects" pile.

Experience doesn't matter.

A candidate's resume isn't everything. One study in Evolv's report, which tracked 7,240 recent hires in sales, technology, and customer care positions, suggests that employees with relevant prior experience are no more likely to excel at their current jobs than inexperienced employees when it comes to hourly work.

Of the employees monitored, 28 percent had prior experience and 72 percent did not. After six months, researchers found no noticeable difference in the attrition rates between the two groups.

"Finding something [like this] that isn't predictive is almost as interesting as finding something that is," says Michael Housman, an analyst at Evolv. He explains that in the case of hourly workers--which comprise 60 percent of the overall American workforce--working in a similar environment previously was not at all helpful when it came to employee retention or performance.

Great employees don't always make great bosses.

"We find, more often than not, that someone is a good employee so he or she gets appointed to train others," says Housman. But this could be a mistake. The best teachers are often those who deviate from the curriculum and encourage a more open and adaptable environment in their classroom, Housman says. In other words, they are the employees who don't always follow the rules.

According to another workforce report study--this one analyzing data from 22,000 hourly employees, 162 of whom trained new hires--the most effective teachers on the job are those who encourage employee camaraderie and constructive feedback, rather than a strict adherence to performance goals. In fact, when bosses emphasized teamwork and transparent communication, employees stayed in their jobs two to three times longer, the study showed.

Your employees are better than you at recruiting.

Evolv found that job candidates who were recommended by friends already employed by the company stayed in their jobs 20 percent longer than those with no prior internal connections.

This finding has a two-pronged explanation, says Housman. He says that the higher rate of retention is due in part to both "treatment" and "selection" effects. For example, employees benefiting from the "treatment effect" already have friendly connections within a company and may be more socially satisfied--therefore more likely to enjoy and stay in their jobs, says Housman.

The "selection effect," on the other hand, suggests that employees who arrived at a job through the recommendation of friends are more likely to understand and value the position.

"They talk to friends who know what's up, and come in with expectations that are more aligned with [those of] the company," says Housman. "When you keep someone around 20 percent longer, that is worth many fold the referral bonus--in fact, [businesses] should be willing to pay more!"

IMAGE: hersenspinsels/Flickr
Last updated: Apr 11, 2013

FRANCESCA FENZI | Staff Writer

Francesca Fenzi reports on entrepreneurship, technology and small business news from San Francisco. Her work has previously appeared in TIME, USA Today, Pop City and The Northside Chronicle.




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