Nov 14, 2012 · Amelia Pentecost
Felicia Savage is a content strategist and up-and-coming PR specialist living in Indianapolis. When she isn’t sharing online content, Felicia loves to draw and watch animated films in her spare time. Twitter: @canonicalkitteh
Despite the large number of unemployed persons in the United States, hiring managers across various industries are experiencing a common problem: a lack of qualified applicants. What should you do when the skills and background of a majority of the applicants for a position fall under the minimum requirements? One approach is to include unqualified applicants in your pool of potential candidates. This method goes against the norm, but it can offer your organization several benefits.
Advantages of the unconventional method
- Growth potential: If your organization is in a growing period, a candidate with less-than-superstar qualifications may actually contribute more to your growth. A growing organization needs employees to remain motivated and committed to the business. Losing good people with specialized knowledge and skills can cripple an organization. There is no guarantee any employee will stay employed with your organization. Newcomers who are given the opportunity to grow, however, may offer more staying power.
- Fresh ideas: Organizations that have been in business for several years with very little attrition may become comfortable and neglect to consider new ways of growing the organization or improving the services they offer. Newcomers are going to have questions about their new job. Some of these questions may spark ideas that have never been considered. The enthusiasm from a newcomer can be infectious and cause other employees to become more motivated about their jobs.
- More effort: The skills and experience of superstar applicants may be accompanied with inflexibility and closed-mindedness. Newcomers to a position typically come with a clean slate, ready to be molded, and tend to be more productive than their seasoned counterparts.
How does this approach change your hiring process?
As a hiring manager, you're probably accustomed to using techniques to find the “perfect” candidate. This person does not exist and even if they did, you probably wouldn’t want to hire them. When you widen your pool of candidates, you must become in tune to uncovering the “diamonds in the rough.” This requires you become a better listener and be willing to dig a little deeper than the surface. Start by reconsidering your wish list. Consider your must-haves first and organize everything else as a nice-to-have. Does the applicant have skills that transfer to the new position? Take, for example, a technical support position. A candidate must have decent communication skills; there is no getting around this requirement. Experience and typing speed are also important, but the requirements for these could be relaxed if an applicant -- especially someone with a few technical courses under his/her belt -- understands technical subjects.
Consider what a candidate has to offer your organization and vice versa. If a candidate is ideal with the exception of one or two skills, training may be the answer. Does your organization have a training budget that could be used to bring a potential candidate up to speed? Does the applicant have a history of getting up to speed quickly? Are they trainable? How much experience does the applicant lack? Obtaining answers to these questions can help you determine if a less-qualified candidate is worth pursuing.
If you decide to hire someone who doesn't completely meet the requirements for a position, take steps to protect your investment. Pairing the newcomer with someone in the organization who can mentor, coach and train them is a good plan. Some companies use a buddy system with new hires. Turn your most recent recruit into a superstar in no time!