The world of work is changing, without a doubt. But the way in which people and places find one another is lagging behind. The recruitment industry is founded on believes that built up the labor market as we know it — long-term career objectives and a one-way path to success. But in the hyper-digital, fast-paced society of today, modern workers have shifted their goals; success is a luxury, development, however, is a necessity.
The things valued in a career are changing. Not only do employees seek personal development in their jobs, companies too are gravitating towards waging a purposeful contribution to society alongside remaining a profitable business. But how is this change reflected in the way people and places find each other? Today still, recruitment often revolves around CVs, past career achievements and one-dimensional assessments.
For the benefit of workers, companies and recruiters alike, the industry is ready for a change.
Old habits die hard
Recruiting new talent is time consuming and often costly, if done the familiar way. It’s precisely this paradoxical relationship between recruitment and its supposed side-effects that stigmatizes the industry. Is recruitment time consuming and costly or does it remain so because it has never been subjected to an alternative? The big recruitment dilemma is not one-sided, nor is it a matter of quick fixes and a one-size-fits-all solution. Multiple stakeholders prevent the industry from following in the footsteps of e.g. technology, healthcare or education. Whereas these industries have, to a large extent, found ways to adapt to a labor market that demands agility and innovation, recruitment for the most part still relies on the mantra ‘we just need someone to do the job’.
Essentially, traditional recruitment is just a matter of supply and demand; a company demands X FTE, a recruitment company or HR department delivers. Ideally, these FTE possess the right skills and qualities to make a true difference for the business, but this often is not the initial objective. But it should be.
Supporting employees in realizing growth ambitions and stimulating learning curves benefits your company in more ways than one; it creates a reciprocal and healthy relationship that creates room for innovation and expanded market share. Enabling strength and development results in skills that far exceed your expectations. This notion is becoming more and more popular among recruiters and HR managers alike. By looking beyond a candidate’s history of ‘have dones’ and focus on the ‘will be ables’ instead, you create value for your company. Of course these ‘will be ables’ require attention and encouragement, but the potential of shaping an employee that elevates your business is worth the effort.
But how to step away from the old habits of looking at past achievements? How do you judge a candidate based on what they — with the right support and in the right environment — may be able to accomplish in the future?
There are several things that get in the way of evaluating a candidate on their potential, one of which is the vacancy text.
Realistic job requirements
Even though it’s tempting to present a long list of job requirements for a particular position, it may work against you. This long list can indeed be a tool to do a pre-selection of applicants — the more requirements you ask, the less response you’ll receive — however, a great deal of qualified talent will go unnoticed.
The greatest talent around may not have the years of experience with programming language X or framework Y, but they do have the ability to learn fast, think creatively and provide new perspectives. And there’s value in that.
Moreover, an extensive list of job requirements scares away even the most talented and experienced professionals, simply because they are not interested in a position that doesn’t offer them anything new. To attract the talent your company deserves’, you could consider embracing a more open approach to listing job requirements. This means you throw out the old list of ‘must-haves’, and replace it with a text on your acceptance towards talent bringing new skills to the table. You might even discover business needs and opportunities you never knew were there.
Encouraging your company’s diversity policy
Another expression of the urge to seek the familiar is found in the lack of diversity across the labor market. Today, it is important for every business to take notice of their internal diversity rates. Whether it concerns race, gender, nationality or something else entirely, paying attention to diversity is no longer a luxury. Therefore, the hiring process should be equipped with strategies that encourage diversity. The excuse that the right diverse talent is not out there for your company has been invalid for a long time now; it’s just a matter of knowing how and where to look.
Stimulating company diversity is not a one-way street. Don’t expect talent from different backgrounds applying to your vacancies when your texts clearly favour the white, western male standard. You have to make an effort.
Even today, some companies publish vacancies that show a job title followed by ‘m/f’, suggesting that both male and female applicants are encouraged to respond. Yet in a world where careers are as fluid as the identities of the people pursuing them, including ‘m/f’ is the indirect reminder of inequality. It is a reminder that once, in relatively recent history, there was only an ‘m’ behind that job description. Whereas today, gender is no longer perceived as binary, requiring job titles to appeal to everyone, including people identifying with neither the ‘m’ nor the ‘f’.
Creating inclusive vacancies is just the first step in adapting your hiring strategy to today’s reality. Your approach to diversity requires further care, thought, critical evaluation and creativity. Ask yourself how your company is represented online. Which people dominante your company photos? Do you make a statement advocating for an inclusive work environment? Do you communicate how and why your business encourages diversity? You may very well believe in the cause of diversity, but when your communication and actions surrounding this topic remain passive, little progress is made.
1. Write inclusive vacancy texts
Writing inclusive vacancies requires thought and creativity. We are inclined to write for the audience we know: people that share similar traits to us, find themselves in the same social class and come from similar backgrounds. However, to encourage inclusivity and diversity, write for what you don’t know. Use language you wouldn’t normally use. Distribute your vacancy on a wide variety of platforms. Ask feedback on your text from those you want to reach and motivate. But most of all, expose yourself to different people, cultures, habits — it will help you create an inclusive business that celebrates diversity.
2. Speak up
Creating a recruitment process that encourages diversity is one, communicating this strategy with the world is another. Take the lead in reinventing recruitment when it comes to diversity. Inspire others, other companies, to follow in your footsteps and create a brand to look up to and be proud of. The act of hiring is in desperate need of change to overcome prevailing discrimination in the labor market. Be that change.
3. Manage your employer brand
Aside from your inclusive vacancy texts, actively manage an employer brand that celebrates diversity within the company and among its customers/clients. This includes highlighting your approach to diversity in the workplace, transparently communicating the hiring process and encouraging people from different backgrounds to apply. Make sure your employer brand breathes diversity and reflects the values you hold towards inclusivity and awareness.
A number of obstacles are currently in the way of realizing the great potential of modern hiring processes. The urge to seek the familiar and to judge talent based on former achievements both undermine the change that’s needed in the industry. Instead, aim to find talent based on future promises, not past accomplishments. A CV will only tell you the facts and numbers of a person in the past, whereas the relevance of strategic hiring is found in focusing on future potential and the ambition to grow.
The hiring industry is in need of change to overcome its current predicaments. Not in the least to create an inclusive, equal and fair labor market.Yet change in the industry can only come about when the mindset of recruiters, companies and hires alike is turned away from the past and onto the future.