Would you hire someone who is currently unemployed? What about someone who has changed jobs twice in the last two years? Or someone who lives two time zones away and needs to relocate? A decade ago, these candidates wouldn’t get a second look from a hiring manager – no matter how qualified or skilled they might be. Today, a similar approach would be a mistake.
As HR departments shift from tactical operators to strategic business advisors, teams are consolidating responsibilities and rethinking traditional roles. A similar perspective can be valuable for hiring. By rethinking conventional hiring rules, you can bring fresh talent to your team – even as unemployment rates continue at historic lows.
These are three hiring assumptions that are ripe for a change:
1. Rejecting candidates due to atypical job histories.
In a less competitive candidate market, hiring managers may skip over job seekers who are currently unemployed, have a recent resume gap, or who have a history of “job hopping.” In today’s tight market, however, being too picky can backfire.
If a candidate has the right skill set and experience, it’s worth a quick phone call to learn more about their background. Are they relocating for a spouse or returning to the job market following a brief break for personal reasons? When I vet a candidate, I’m looking at the why behind their resume. What motivates this person? Why did they leave their last job and what are they looking for in their next position? Dismissing someone too quickly could mean overlooking a key addition to your team.
2. Restricting the candidate search to local professionals.
The job market in Denver, where I’m based, is red hot and the unemployment rate hit a new record low of 5% in December 2019. Finding local talent can be done, but it isn’t easy and often means an extended hiring timeline of four months or longer. Companies can accelerate their hiring process by expanding the geographic radius of their search. Of course, not every company is comfortable with this approach. I understand: you don’t want to take a candidate through the entire interview process only to have that person get cold feet about moving. And some companies simply don’t have the budget to cover relocation expenses.
As a recruiter, I can get to know candidates on a more personal level than a hiring manager can. I’m looking for red flags that suggest a move simply isn’t in the cards, like a spouse who would be reluctant to leave their job. I’m learning about a candidate’s interests and passions outside the office. Someone who loves to hike, bike or ski, for example, is likely to embrace Denver’s active outdoor lifestyle. Of course, hiring managers want a candidate who is moving for the lifestyle and their company – and not just looking to get a foot in the door in a new city. I screen out candidates who aren’t committed to building a career with your business.
I’m also assessing expectations for relocation expense support. In addition to Denver, cities like Austin and Nashville have become popular destinations in their own right. Businesses in these cities may find a great candidate who’s already interested in moving and may not need or expect relocation expenses.
3. Expecting “perfect” candidates who excel at multiple functions.
As HR departments become leaner, responsibilities are being consolidated into single positions. Five years ago, a team might have three different professionals handling three different aspects of compensation. Today, hiring managers are looking for a single professional who excels at all three – a tall order that’s unrealistic in a competitive market like Denver.
I’ve written before about the importance of flipping this script by speaking to candidate needs, rather than just summarizing your skills wish list, and considering a job seeker’s long-term potential with your company. If a candidate is a good fit for one aspect of a compensation role, could your team get them up to speed on the other two parts? Research finds that professionals are more engaged and loyal to employers who invest in their development. Hiring with an eye towards potential not only means you’ll fill positions faster, but you may also end up with a more engaged and loyal employee. That unlocks a powerful force for success on your HR team.
New year, new hiring approach: by letting go of past assumptions, you’ll open your HR team up to greater hiring success in 2020 and beyond.