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Posted February 24, 2017 by

Assumptions that hurt hiring practices

 

Hiring assumptions are everywhere. They often reduce the effectiveness of the hiring process. Admittedly, it’s impossible to remove all potential subjectivity and bias from a hiring process. Even as we’ve introduced more technology into recruiting (for example, Applicant Tracking Systems), a human being–a flawed human being–makes the final decision after some person-to-person meetings. A candidate’s dress, speech, overall manner, specific responses to questions, and more can potentially trigger biases and assumptions in even the most level-headed hiring manager. Confirmation bias is hugely powerful psychologically, and we can’t ignore that.

However, let’s call out some of the biggest hiring assumptions. Perhaps increased awareness can help us to be more vigilant, and minimize the impact of our biases on recruiting and hiring. Some of the most common hiring assumptions include:

Assumption #1: “The perfect candidate is always out there somewhere!” This is an ideal, but often not the reality. To find the best candidate for a given job, a hiring manager/HR professional needs to understand three different concepts: (1) the work itself, (2) the current composition of the job market for that type of role, and (3) what other jobs in that geography (or remote) are offering. Internally at companies, HR and hiring managers tend to understand (1), but less so (2) and (3). If you need an “agile scrum manager,” and your local market just hired dozens of that role, then when you go to hire, it’s a depleted market. The perfect candidate may not be out there, and it may be better to delay the posting instead of hiring someone short of your needs because of this hiring assumption.

Assumption #2: Complicated hiring processes weed out less passionate candidates: Many times, companies will create intense early-stage (top of funnel) hiring processes. For example, their candidates must take written tests, complete projects, etc. The theory is logical: having these as mandatory will weed out less-passionate “passive” candidates. Unfortunately, though, this is also a hiring assumption that can backfires. Intensive, jump-through-hoops hiring demands can end up just being barriers, and weed out highly-qualified people, who may simply choose not to apply. Additionally: if your hiring process is very demanding, that might be fine. But please make sure it correlates with competitive compensation at the end. No one wants to prove a skill set 17 times over to then be offered an under-market salary. (more…)

Posted October 28, 2016 by

Oven-ready hires: The problem of matching available skills to our demands

Oven ready dishGuest writer Martin Edmondson, CEO and founder of Gradcore

It feels like there is an ever-growing consensus among employers that university graduates should emerge fully formed, perfectly skilled and immediately work ready. The phrase ‘oven ready’ graduates appears far too often for my liking. It oversimplifies what is ultimately a very complicated issue: How do you match the supply of skills and people with the demands of the economy, when both are moving targets? In other words, how much should employers compromise when searching for the ideal candidate? How much should they training should they assume?

 

This is such a significant issue in the UK that the government has created a ‘Teaching Excellence Framework’ for universities. One of its goals is to tackle “skill mismatches” in the economy. (Go figure that the same government is now limiting their own access to skilled talent via immigration clampdowns.)

Every employer presents unique circumstances. So it’s critical for employers to examine their fundamental approach to hiring with a few questions such as:

  • What characterizes the hires you make that are successful, and those that are not?
  • What is the most critical factor for fit with your organization – skills, values, attitude etc?
  • How recently did you evaluate what is really important in the people you hire?
  • If all the evidence says that those people are not available for that price in this place, which one of those variables are you prepared to change?

Here is the challenge: So many employers are seeking candidates with the skills that are in shortage areas. This is typically around digital and software roles where there is a major disconnect between employer requirements and the quality and quantity of graduates available. Employers (and policy makers who are trying to solve these problems) should try one of the following:

1. Grow your own

This is the long game, but often one of the most successful approaches if you have the time. Recruit graduates who have the core attributes or values that suit your organisation, but need to develop their skills further. Then put in place the structured training that will develop them. This could be in house training, or delivered under emerging models such as degree-apprenticeships.

2. Think differently

Stop looking at the really obvious candidates. This could be described as the Blue Ocean approach, getting away from where everyone else is fishing. Recently I saw a very interesting post from a company called Talla about mapping resumes using neural networks. This visual approach helps you to appreciate that people who superficially have seemingly different backgrounds are actually remarkably similar. Each of the dots below is a resume. This shows how different titles share characteristics:Point graph of title descriptions on resumes

 

 

 

 

 

3. Up the budget

Sometimes you simply need to either increase the budget in order to reach a wider audience, or increase salary to attract the necessary skills. While it’s never ideal, there are clearly certain economic realities that are hard to escape.

Underlying all of this is a bigger societal question, which will be answered differently in different countries:

Whose job is it to make a person employable?

Is it the role of the education system and teachers? Employers? Parents or the state? Or are we all solely responsible for our own development? All play a part, but the prevailing national answer to this question goes a long way to deciding the expectations employers have of graduates and vice versa.

 

Look forward to discussing this and lots of other topics around college recruiting at the College Recruiter Bootcamp in Washington DC on December 8.

martin-edmondsonMartin is the CEO and founder of Gradcore, a social enterprise focused on graduate employment and employability. Martin has more than 15 years of experience in graduate recruitment and Higher Education. He founded Gradcore, and over the last decade has led a wide range of graduate recruitment and employability projects. These include running global graduate schemes for a range of large employers, delivering employability performance improvement in universities, and chairing the UK and European Graduate Employment Conferences. Martin was a member of the steering group for the ‘graduate recruitment in SMEs’ report for the UK government and has written for a wide range of newspapers and websites. Connect with Martin on LinkedIn.