Hiring as we know is an old practice. From hiring house help to hiring an architect for your house renovation to formal workplace hiring – most of us have experienced one or more forms of hiring. So what then has changed in recent times that merit a serious overhauling of the formal hiring process as we know it today?
The pandemic has accelerated a change that was already simmering below the surface. Location-agnostic jobs, non-traditional talent pools as well as gig workers, and a significant change in candidates’ expectations have all left many organisations grasping at straws. A recent Gartner survey found that 59% of the candidates would let go of a 10% higher paying job for a job with a better work-life balance. This reprioritisation is evident in the discussions that candidates are having as they assess who they want to work for. Factors such as personal time, meaningful work, higher flexibility, and similar factors are significantly influencing offer acceptance decisions.
The other big change is that of diversity entering the mix. So far, hiring was known to have two major goals – hire the best person for the job and fill the open position as quickly as possible. Recruiters and hiring managers had found their rhythm in balancing these two tasks, when a third goal of hiring diverse candidates came in, upsetting this delicate balance.
Finally, even if hiring diverse talent is not a stated goal, the talent pool is diverse by default, and hiring from a diverse talent pool calls for a completely different mindset and approach. Hiring techniques that have worked for fairly homogenous groups in the past are proving to be irrelevant for diverse talent pools. And many of these could easily qualify as discriminatory.
Here are five ways in which hiring is being reimagined to stay relevant in today’s context:
An attractive employer value proposition: Whether it’s upgrading our smartphone or choosing which resort to book for our upcoming holiday, reviews are critical! It is a similar story when candidates decide to apply or join an organisation – networks and Glassdoor reviews are being scanned to understand what is the experience of existing employees. They want to know if the organisation has diversity-friendly policies. Organisations need to continuously put in the work to position themselves as a diversity-friendly and inclusive workplace so that they cement their position as an employer of choice to what is today a highly diverse talent pool.
From equal opportunity to employment equity: Most companies now have a stated equal opportunity stance, but that alone may not suffice. A company may say that their jobs are open for everyone to apply for, including persons with disability, which is an equal opportunity, but employment equity would ensure that jobs are posted in WCAG compliant manner which allows access to those with visual impairment or that the job is open to reasonable accommodation. So to be able to hire the best from a diverse talent pool, companies need to take intentional steps toward a fair and equitable hiring process.
From cultural-fit to cultural-add: ‘Cultural fit is a common criterion on interview evaluation sheets. It typically indicates that all else is okay with the candidate, and that are they likely to fit in. This can become a barrier for diverse candidates to enter. We need to shift from a ‘blending in’ to a ‘synergy’ mindset where people who are different can retain their authentic selves. While candidates need to be evaluated for their alignment with the company values, but not necessarily for their ability to fit in. Organisations need to stay open to people that will add to the culture with their diverse ways.
Limiting unconscious and systemic bias: The hiring process is most vulnerable to bias. Organisations are finding ways to limit human as well as systemic bias. The former is being addressed by sensitising recruiters and hiring managers to the impact of bias, while also ensuring diverse hiring panels. At a systemic level, reviewing job descriptions, hiring criteria, talent sources, etc. for inclusion and equity gaps is a big focus.
Hiring for Potential rather than experience: Moving away from traditional criteria such as qualification, formal experience, etc. is a major shift being made to be able to truly tap into the wider talent pool which includes non-traditional talent. Hiring criteria and standards of meritocracy had been designed keeping a traditional (and convenient) hire in mind. This will need an overhauling if organisations want to move towards hiring for potential rather than hiring for the experience alone.