Recruiting new faces for your crew? While you may not be prepared to compromise your must-have skills list, many employers are having trouble finding job candidates who possess their ideal requirements. Chalk the dilemma up to a buyer's market in which talent has the upper hand.
Though it seems like a tough proposition for companies desperate to fill critical roles, the answer may lie in reassessing the whole recruitment experience. After all, a great hire doesn't necessarily have to check every box to be your strongest choice. Research from Adecco USA indicates that 37 percent of businesses are getting more creative and less stringent when it comes to finding the perfect fit for openings. The payoff? Speedier hiring cycles and a wider candidate pool.
Rather than focus so hard on technical capabilities, why not strive to hire people who bring other important attributes to the table? You can always beef up their skill set with classes, workshops and certifications later. But you can't teach other indicators of success, such as an eagerness to learn, a potential for leadership growth or self-motivation.
Here are three ways to rework your recruiting process to improve your chances of onboarding a long-term teammate.
1. Go soft.
Time management, imagination, empathy -- these are some of the soft skills most desired in today's workforce. According to LinkedIn's findings, 57 percent of executives see more value in hiring for soft skills than technical prowess. In fact, emotional intelligence is so important that hiring someone without it can destroy an office environment.
How can you seek out softer traits when interviewing? Find out what drives interviewees by asking probing questions about challenges they're likely to encounter. How have they responded to setbacks? How have they avoided them? When you find someone who exemplifies hard-to-find softer abilities, consider whether you can teach him the tech skills the job requires -- grooming a software developer for your new AI project, say, or teaching a software tester the nuts and bolts of cybersecurity.
2. Think "add," not "fit."
Considering that technical requirements may be hard to meet, it's tempting to feel out which candidate is the best "culture fit" and hire her. However, this practice begets sameness. Unless you want a workforce of clones, stop concentrating on picking someone who will fit right in. Otherwise, you're surrounding yourself with people who tend to think alike. "Hiring for culture fit alone is problematic, because doing so won't ensure a dynamic, innovative, and future-focused organization," says DeLisa Alexander, chief people officer and executive vice president of Red Hat, an enterprise open-source solutions provider that counts UPS and BP among its customers.
Seeking a "culture add," as Alexander puts it, steers recruiters away from unconscious bias. Rather than rely on their existing networks, your managers should expect to hire people with different backgrounds from their own. Certainly, you want a person who feels comfortable in your environment -- not to mention someone who will embrace your processes and expectations. But I've run into the flip side before -- it wasn't until my team lacked someone with the necessary insight to speak to a core audience's perspective that we realized we needed to widen our net when hiring.
3. Listen to your tribe.
Do you tend to interview people without asking for colleagues' input? You're flirting with disaster. Bad hires often happen in vacuums. Executives bring newbies into the fold without allowing other voices to chime in, only to discover later that they could've used a second or third opinion. It's an expensive lesson to learn: According to CareerBuilder, putting the wrong derriere in the seat can cost more than $18,000.
As CEO of branding and marketing firm TBGA, Christine Alemany explains, "The candidates' future internal partners, colleagues, and direct reports will bring unique perspectives on what is required in the role. By involving them, you'll find the post-hire roles and responsibilities less contentious in high-growth environments."
Use your people to guide your decisions, and consider requiring top candidates to work with the group (paid, of course) on a trial project before making offers.
It's fine to have a fleshed-out job description. Just don't die on every requirement hill. Otherwise, you could wind up with a technically proficient player who just doesn't have what it takes to keep up with the rest of the team.