The pandemic’s impact on businesses has led to companies recognising the importance of agility and innovation, but in order to discover and acquire talent that can deliver on these fronts, companies need to update their hiring practices.
Agility and innovation are more likely to flourish in diverse organisations. In fact, according to McKinsey & Company, such organisations tend to earn higher profits than their less diverse counterparts.
People with shared experiences and similar training may certainly be able to achieve consensus more rapidly. However, because they view problems the same way, they create an environment that encourages and even rewards narrow thinking.
Companies that want to succeed in an uncertain world must intentionally build teams with varied skill sets and life experiences.
FOCUS ON POTENTIAL
Firstly, employers need to move away from hiring based on candidates’ paper qualifications.
Global companies such as Google, Apple and Bank of America are no longer requiring traditional qualifications. In fact, experts point out that jobs are changing so rapidly that companies should be hiring adaptable learners. These individuals usually learn through a mix of self-study, experimentation and formal classes.
Also, many skills can be taught on the job as long as individuals possess the desire to learn and have the core capabilities to succeed.
As you screen and interview candidates, ask the following questions in order to better identify those who are likely to excel and innovate, no matter the circumstances.
a. Describe a problem you encountered at work and how you solved it.
Look out for candidates who may have solved a problem in an unexpected way. It doesn’t even have to be in the context of a workplace setting. Perhaps they are part of a charity or association and solved a long-standing or complex problem in a creative manner.
b. What tasks do you enjoy so much that you often lose track of time while doing them?
This would help you uncover what motivates them.
c. Describe a project you’re proud of – one that also involved working with others.
Ask them to be specific about why they are proud of the project. This will offer clues as to what motivates them and their level of self-awareness. How they interact with others could also give you clues about whether they are better off being individual contributors or team leaders.
FOCUS ON EXPERIENCES OUTSIDE OF WORK
Look at candidates’ volunteer work, hobbies such as music or writing, other interests that might be reflected in their LinkedIn posts, etc.
These can often tell you more about candidates’ motivations and their ability to learn independently.
WRITE UNCONVENTIONAL JOB DESCRIPTIONS
In order to attract unconventional candidates, you will have to help them envision working at your company. Job descriptions, your company’s LinkedIn profile and your careers page need to reflect your openness to nurturing them and your commitment to their growth. On all channels, authentically describe what it is like to work at your company.
Avoid using jargon as such language could discourage them from applying. Describe the role as a human being would, rather than in the form of a conventional checklist of required skills, degrees or years of experience. Focus on what the applicant can expect to do on a day-to-day basis and talk about job requirements in terms of the high-level attributes needed to do it well, e.g., a sense of curiosity and interest in solving complex marketing challenges. If the job requires a specific technical skill that you are willing to help them pick up and hone, mention that you will be providing on-the-job training.
When writing job descriptions, ask yourself why a particular skill or competency is crucial. You might realise that many of the components in your current list of skills and competencies are, in fact, easily taught or something that those from adjacent industries and sectors might possess in the form of transferable skills.
RELOOK AT ONBOARDING, TRAINING AND RETENTION
Hiring unconventional individuals is not enough. Managers and leaders have to learn new ways of onboarding, training and retaining them.
For instance, goals and milestones that apply to everyone else certainly cannot apply to those learning on the job. Managers must acknowledge that these individuals are operating on a different timeline without making them feel inadequate.
Teams must also be prepared to encourage these individuals to contribute their unconventional ideas and methods of solving problems. As you prepare to welcome diverse individuals into your organisation, you must communicate with your current employees with the aim of cultivating a more open work environment. If new hires feel unappreciated or mismanaged, they are not likely to stay. Attracting and retaining new types of talent will certainly require companies to adopt corporate cultures that enable such talent to thrive.