Expand Your Candidate Pool: Best Behaviors Lead to the Best Candidates
I don’t know about you, but it’s starting to get old hearing the “it’s a candidate’s market” comments from nearly everyone in social media, news articles and in far too many blogs to count (The BEST Blog included). It’s one thing to call it out, but it’s entirely different to address and solve the problem. While there are currently no silver bullets, there are some innovative and different ways of looking at the workforce that can give you the edge over your competition.
In January 2019, I came across an article that highlighted a professional’s path to business leadership. It walked us through how she got started in the industry, her background and expertise, recounted the obstacles she faced and how she changed with the times. These last two, obstacles and changing with the times, are often missed by so many when hiring.
With un- and even under-employment at historic lows and such a significant skill mismatch, it’s becoming harder to backfill roles when the talent pool seems to be shrinking at an alarming rate. In fact, in Bloomberg (April 4, 2019 – U.S. Jobless Claims Fall to 49-Year Low, Below All Forecasts) it was reported that employers are “holding onto workers and loath to let them go.” This makes pulling talent from competitors even more challenging than ever before!
Much of the issue is based on how one defines the talent pool. Hiring managers tend to select candidates only if they have the exact pedigree, experience and knowledge required for the position. Usually, this means they want a sales candidate’s “book of business” to come with them. For technical roles, they want candidates to make a parallel shift into the same role they are leaving. However, this is not the 1980’s. Candidates today are more career savvy and they have choices both in and outside their current industries.
To add another layer of complexity, many business leaders are stuck in two camps: clone the current aging employee population or hire the younger generation. In cloning the current aging employee population, hiring managers want someone who has done it before in their industry and, if possible, for their clients or clients’ competitors. This first camp leads to low or no innovation, a decreasing talent pool, and the challenge of pulling from a competitor, which is the only place to find those who have done the exact same role you are trying to fill.
Hiring the younger generation appears to be a terrific alternative! Get them in early in their career and they will stay forever, just like the Baby Boomer generation or Gen Xers, right? WRONG! Specifically targeting younger candidates over older candidates equally able, capable, and willing to perform the same job at the same rate of pay is a violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). Additionally, there are challenges that must be overcome such as client perceptions that they lack the knowledge, skills, and abilities to help them. There are also the challenges of keeping these early career professionals engaged in the business when they are hungry to grow their careers. So, how do we get around these issues?
Changing with the Times: It is About Behaviors
The solution does not have to be an either/or situation. In fact, age never has to be a factor at all, and legally it’s safer if it isn’t. Every role has certain behavior traits and competencies that lead to success no matter who is in the role. These traits provide us insight into each candidate around what motivates them, how they act or interact, and the thought processes they engage in. Competencies that candidates bring are developed over time and can be seen through their innate and learned behaviors. Competencies might be core to the role or company, demonstrated leadership or individual contributions, and may even be very unique based on the positions they have held.
In the context of a job, people must possess a particular set of competencies to be a good “fit” and achieve success. The three critical dimensions of job-related competencies are:
- Behavior Traits that are required to accomplish the job
- Experience or job-related education and training that contribute to greater productivity
- Chemistry or the personality that is compatible with the company and work group.
We need to change our hiring thinking by realizing the importance and specific identification of the behavior traits required in a role. This will open a wider, more qualified talent pool.
Experience, or hiring the exact same position from your competitor, is too often viewed as the most important dimension. However, it’s actually the LEAST critical to success. Outside of highly technical roles, we can hire a lower level of specific experience because technical, product and industry knowledge can be trained.
If a professional has the right behaviors and experience but the chemistry is lacking, a person may still be successful if the company and person recognize, and choose to work through, their differences. The same is true for professionals with the right behaviors but little experience and poor chemistry.
The common hiring success denominator is behaviors – not experience or chemistry. We are all looking to hire the ideal candidate with adequate levels of behaviors, experience and chemistry. Unfortunately, this is akin to looking for a purple squirrel – good luck finding that in today’s dynamic hiring market.
How Do We Identify these Behaviors?
There are 25 specific professional behaviors that make up behavior trait families. We define these 4 families as:
- MOTIVATIONS – The fundamental drive of an individual characterized by more than the simple desire to earn money. What provides the individual the personal fulfillment in their work?
- MODES OF ACTING – Functional behavioral traits that address the individual’s approach and skills for accomplishing work functions. These include organizational and time management skills, planning and prioritization, initiative, work focus and physical and mental stamina.
- MODES OF INTERACTING – Addresses an individual’s interpersonal skills in how they influence, interact and get along with others.
- MODES OF THINKING – An individual’s capacity to gather information and process it. These traits look at an individual’s ethical principles, creativity, flexibility and adaptability.
When determining the need for a new position, or to backfill an existing role, collaborate with HR, the Hiring Manager, and those impacted by the role (internal/external clients, peers, and direct reports if any). Identify the behavior traits, competencies and personality desired in the ideal candidate. Within each behavior trait family are differing combinations of behaviors and competencies important to each role. It’s easy to state, “Well, ALL are important to one degree or another.” Take time to accurately identify and rank the top 6 behaviors necessary for success in a position. Let them guide your search. You’ll be able to develop specific questions assessing how closely candidates embody these traits.
Don’t exclude a candidate who does not reflect a certain knowledge, skill, or experience if it can be trained. If they reflect the behavior traits and competencies aligned with what you have defined for the role, take a closer look.
Candidates with a diverse experience set, without the exact pedigree, experience, and knowledge of previous incumbents, but who demonstrate the desired combination of behavior traits and competencies, bring innovation and creativity to your business. It’s the difference between looking for reasons TO hire someone rather than NOT TO hire them. By assessing and hiring talent based on “Best Behaviors,” you will find a lot more candidates in your candidate pool who can excel in the role, and you may just find the business growth and employee retention you have been looking for.
If your company is need of assistance in deepening your candidate pool and identifying the Best Behaviors for your company in a candidate’s market, we can help — contact us today!