Not so long ago while scrolling through LinkedIn, I stumbled upon this post by Daniel Abrahams. He used a very simple, yet clever example to illustrate the importance of rethinking how we evaluate candidates:
Yes, relying on job requirements gives us a sense of security when deciding who to hire. After all, it’s how we’ve done hiring all along. While there is value in having these requirements, we often tend to overlook evaluating which job requirements are actually necessary for the role and which are not.
A false sense of security with detrimental consequences
While it may give a false sense of security when deciding who to hire, it’s time to reconsider the value we attach to these requirements. And no, I’m not telling you to ditch hard job requirements altogether. I’m just trying to help you see that it might be time to reconsider how much value gets attached to it. Here are just a few reasons why.
Shrinking talent pool
First, it can lead to a smaller pool of qualified candidates since some candidates may not meet all listed requirements. This can result in missed opportunities to hire individuals who possess valuable skills or experience but lack certain credentials. For example, by clinging on to work-experience, you will miss out on a talented software developer who doesn’t have a degree in computer science but has built multiple successful applications.
Ask yourself: are you really willing to sacrifice a larger pool of candidates for the sake of more requirements?
The more requirements, the fewer applications
Second, job postings with a high number of requirements tend to receive fewer applications, as candidates may feel discouraged or intimidated by the lengthy list of qualifications. For example, job postings with 6-13 requirements received, on average, 30% more applicants than postings with 14 or more requirements (Glassdoor). Thus, making it more difficult for you to find the right candidate for the job.
For example, imagine you are hiring for a software engineer position. Based on the two lists of job requirements below, which one do you think will receive fewer applications?
The first example includes realistic and necessary qualifications for the position, while the second example includes an excessive number of qualifications that may discourage potential candidates and make it more challenging to find the right person for the job.
Ask yourself: are you unintentionally discouraging diverse candidates from applying by listing too many requirements?
Negatively impacts diversity
Emphasizing job requirements too much can also have a negative impact on diversity and inclusion efforts. For instance, women may not apply for jobs if they don’t meet all listed requirements, whereas men will apply if they meet just a few of the requirements. According to Hewlett Packard, men apply for jobs when they meet 60% of the qualifications, while women apply only when they meet 100% of them.
As a result, job postings with too many hard requirements may limit the diversity of applicants and, ultimately, the diversity of the workplace. In contrast, hiring individuals from different backgrounds and different experiences lead to boosted innovation, creativity, and many other benefits diversity brings.
Ask yourself: are you willing to miss out on these benefits by prioritizing specific job requirements over diverse experiences?
A weak indicator for success
Lastly, many traditional job requirements are not always even the best indicators of success in a given role. Research shows that there is only a weak correlation between education or previous work experience and job performance. Research actually shows that the correlation between education and job performance is 0.10, and the correlation between work experience and job performance is 0.16.
Ask yourself: Do you want to miss out on potentially successful candidates who may not meet traditional job requirements but possess other valuable skills and qualities?
How to comfortably minimise job requirements
To both widen the pool of potential candidates without compromising on essential job requirements, it’s important to focus on both competencies and skills. This approach enables you to attract a more diverse range of candidates while still maintaining the necessary standards for success in the position. When evaluating both competencies and skills, you can ensure that the selected candidate is not only qualified but also possesses the necessary qualities to excel in the role.
To make this more practical, let’s take the example of hiring a software engineer. Rather than prioritising traditional hard requirements, such as education and years of experience, you could focus on the competencies and skills that are truly necessary for the role. For instance, strong problem-solving skills, learning ability and the ability to work collaboratively may be more important indicators of success than a specific degree or a number of years of experience.
Ultimately, it’s important to strike a balance between having clear standards for the role and being open to a diverse pool of candidates. By rethinking your approach to job requirements and being mindful of the potential downsides of emphasizing them too heavily, you will build a more inclusive and effective hiring process.
In our collaboration with Equalture for the recruitment of customer service employees, we have completely deleted the CV and candidates are only assessed on the basis of the scores on the Equalture games, in order to circumvent the shortage in the labour market and to guarantee a fair selection. The desired scores on the Equalture games are predetermined by having current top performers go through the games.
Bart Wenning, Senior Operational Manager at Randstad