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Why you need to stop searching for the perfect candidate

HR Daily, 1 November 2021.

We are facing a crisis, and I’m not talking about the COVID pandemic. Business leaders have forecast a great resignation when borders open, but we’re already starting to see this happen before travel resumes. 

This crisis stems from the way we measure value before we even hire an employee. 

Despite the hopes of migration allowing us to return to business as usual, our current industry-specific skills shortages will not be resolved by the simplistic action of re-opening state and international borders. 

It’s time to drop the idealistic concept of a ‘perfect candidate’ in order to future proof your business. Employers can navigate this looming crisis by strategically planning their workforce and approach their current staff and talent acquisition in a more imaginative, human way. 

By sticking to the narrow and traditional approach of finding someone with the exact skill set needed to do the job, coupled with the golden 5-8 year’s experience, you instantly exclude the majority of the capable workforce. 

Value future potential, not past experience

When thinking about recruiting talent in your business, it’s easy to default into the routine of box-ticking — have they had previous relevant experience? Have they done their time getting a degree? — before actually considering their application. However, it’s more important, and more useful, to evaluate their potential to succeed in the role, rather than their experience alone. 

By opening up to this train of thinking, you instantly begin to diversify your workforce and expand your options, through re-centring the human in the process. You allow opportunities for potential employees, especially the younger workforce, who possibly don’t have the ‘ideal’ amount of experience or skillset to prove themselves through their attitude, adaptability, emotional intelligence and willingness to learn. Similarly, we see mature aged candidates discounted due to their age or their potentially ‘over-qualified background. It is a complete disadvantage to your business to exclude the majority of the workforce who do not own the golden ticket of experience or qualifications. In order to survive and thrive, you need to diversify your recruitment approach.

Taking on a creative approach to recruitment, especially during a skills shortage will allow greater opportunities for your business to find the right candidate. For example, as restrictions ease and hospitality venues open up, we’ve seen many hospitality businesses struggle to find the right candidate to fill the new and ongoing demand. In order to future-proof your business in this scenario, applying creative thinking in the recruitment process and valuing a diverse range of skill sets in order to fulfil vacancies is vital. Not limiting a candidate to hospitality experience, and applying an open mind to greater customer service, organisational management and even general assistant experience and adding on relevant training will ensure your business won’t be short-staffed and will allow for that candidate to thrive. 

Invest in the ‘right’ one

There’s a difference between finding the ‘right’ candidate and the ‘perfect’ candidate. The ‘right’ candidate, is one that has the potential, desire to learn, and attitude that brings value to your culture and business, not necessarily the perfect training, experience or technique. 

Many businesses these days still want, and even need an employee to be able to ‘hit the ground running’, but holding onto this mentality, especially in the current job market, will be detrimental to your business. Not only does it limit your potential candidates, but it shows you’re not willing to invest the time in ensuring the potential employee is set up with the right tools, care, resources and support to achieve success with you. Finding a candidate, however, who’s shown they’re willing and capable, ticks some key boxes, maybe not all, but has the right attitude and desire to learn is the key to ensuring your business will thrive. 

Backing these candidates with an investment in training and development when they start and consistently throughout their employment will be the difference in ensuring the employee WILL become the right employee, and be able to perform their job successfully. Investing in training and development for employees, has been proven to attribute to higher work satisfaction, higher motivation, higher retention and higher performance. 

Essentially, the care you give to employees will come right back to you. 

While it is easy to fall into the trap of desiring specific skillsets and qualifications to fulfil the role and finding that ‘perfect candidate’, the reality is that these attributes are not as important as finding the ‘right candidate’, the person who has potential, holds the companies’ values and has a keen desire to learn. By ensuring your recruitment process is approached with an open mind and allowing room for diversity in thought and skillsets, you will not feel the harsh impact of the great resignation, and will have begun to set your business up for success post pandemic.  

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