How to Limit Your “Must-Haves” for Job Candidates

How to Limit Your "Must-Haves" for Job Candidates

Today, finding qualified candidates is increasingly challenging for companies in nearly every sector. In some cases, this led employers to expand their must-have skills and experience lists, hoping to find job seekers that bring everything they’re after to the table. However, this strategy often backfires.

With lengthy must-have lists, candidates that don’t have the majority – or, in some cases, all – of what you’re after may screen themselves out, even if they could reasonably do the job with a bit of guidance. That significantly reduces your talent pool, causing you to miss out on candidates with genuine potential.

As a result, it’s typically best to list fewer must-haves, not more. If you’re wondering how you can effectively limit your must-haves list while still finding right-fit candidates, here are some tips.

Focus on Skills That Are Genuinely Needed on Day One

When you’re creating a must-have skills list, consider what the candidates genuinely need to bring to the table on day one. Reflect on each requirement and determine when the candidate will need to put that capability to use in the role. If it won’t become relevant immediately, then that skill is a viable target for removal or a shift to the nice-to-have list.

The reason this approach is worth considering is that enthusiastic candidates are typically willing to learn. Most know that they’ll need to pick up new capabilities, and many can do so with surprising speed given the opportunity.

Consider the Training You Can Reasonably Offer

In line with the point above, any skill area that you’re willing and able to train could potentially be removed from the must-have list. Even if the training needs to begin immediately to ensure the candidate will reach full productivity, it allows you to broaden your talent pool by considering job seekers that don’t already have that capability.

Look at your training capacity, including the skills you can support and the amount of time required. Then, use that data to determine which skills are the best candidates for potential training, either immediately or after the candidate gets their initial footing.

Rethink “Years of Experience” and Educational Requirements

Requesting a certain number of years of experience is a common feature in many job ads. However, time spent doing a task isn’t always a reflection of skill level. Some professionals become highly adept in an area quickly but end up screened out simply because they don’t have the right amount of time on their resume.

Since that’s the case, it’s often best to remove any time-related requirements from the must-have list. Instead, request a certain level of proficiency, as that could be a better way to find candidates with the appropriate amount of expertise.

Similarly, it may be wise to eliminate any educational requirements that aren’t genuinely mandated. While it may need to remain in place if there’s a regulatory or licensing requirement related to a particular degree, if that doesn’t apply, removing the education requirement broadens your talent pool.

Skill acquisition doesn’t occur through formal education alone. Some professionals may be self-taught or used non-traditional approaches, such as boot camps. However, their skill level may align with – if not exceed – what you get from a job seeker with a degree. By removing the education requirement, you’ll connect with these candidates.

Make Sure to Factor in Potential

Passionate candidates can often exceed expectations. When a job seeker is enthusiastic about their careers and is hungry to learn, they may outperform candidates that have a broader skillset but aren’t as passionate about the field or role. By giving them the opportunity, you can harness that enthusiasm to mold them into your ideal employee, something that wouldn’t be possible if you didn’t consider their potential when hiring.

Ultimately, reducing your must-haves list is beneficial, particularly in today’s climate. Use the tips above to tap into a deeper talent pool, allowing you to secure a new hire that will genuinely thrive.

If you’d like to find out more about effective hiring, the staff at GSG Talent Solutions wants to hear from you. Contact us today.


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