What this client experienced is the same challenge facing many organizations in a full-employment economy: Good talent is hard to find, and the strongest candidates often have other employment options.
In this case, the client and I were able—through a creative conversation—to build clarity around the role and find ways to make it work for this candidate. The solution involved a combination of shifting certain responsibilities to other functions, building specialized development plans to help the candidate grow into the role, and gaining a commitment from the hiring manager to take on certain duties while supporting the candidate through challenges.
This example makes a clear case that, in competing for top talent, companies must embrace a more open-minded approach toward hiring and development. To that end, here are some tips for organizations moving in that direction:
Cast a Broad Net
Consider candidates with backgrounds different from the conventional requirements. If a candidate shows the personality characteristics needed for the role, along with the willingness to learn, technical skills can be taught and industry knowledge can be acquired.
Be Clear on the Must-Haves
Know why the position exists and the role it plays in moving company strategy forward. You will have a much easier time separating what is essential for success from the clutter. Some compromises will be necessary, and the list of critical requirements should be short, but don’t settle in those essential areas.
Embrace Employee Development
Skill gaps are likely to exist among candidates who otherwise possess the critical qualifications, so fill those gaps through creative approaches to employee development, whether it’s training, mentoring, formal instruction, or some combination. This may involve more intensive manager involvement, peer support, and innovative learning methods.
Focus on retention
In a full-employment economy, the threat of losing talent is ever present, so it’s critical to keep your talent engaged. Organizations that take a long-term view of their employees’ success and growth will be strengthening their position against competition for their talent. By laying out paths for advancement and fostering mutual loyalty between employee and company, you will take major steps to retain the person you worked so hard to find.
Don’t Be Afraid to Sell the Job
With so many options out there, candidates may look to the interview process as an opportunity to inform their decisions. Therefore, interviews should not only be about assessing a candidate’s fit for the role but also about helping candidates understand why the role is right for them. Candidates want to know what you will do to help them succeed and that you are hiring a person with aspirations, not just filling a space in the office. Educate them about the organization.
Know Your Candidates Well
Go deep on this quest for information by obtaining it from multiple sources. With a clear picture of innate strengths and potential gaps, you will make more informed decisions, especially for candidates who lack the specific experience you are looking for. In addition to an in-depth and focused interview process, meaningful reference checking, information from skill and personality assessments, and social media should all be considered.
These days, many Caliper clients are scheduling consultations on candidates who have not even begun the interview process. As candidates often have other opportunities pending, delaying the process even a few days can be costly, so hiring managers need to stay a step ahead.
Finding talent is a challenge at any time, but in a full-employment economy, the need to work smart, know what we’re looking for, and stay flexible is critical. By taking a broader view of hiring and seeing the talent-assessment process in a more refined and creative way, the results will speak for themselves.