The job market is hitting record highs right now. There are more jobs than unemployed people in the United States. The Wall Street Journal reported on June 5, 2018 that “U.S. job openings rose to a seasonally adjusted 6.7 million at the end of April, a record high, and more than the 6.3 million Americans who were unemployed during the month.” This intensifies the struggle to find talent among employers and raises the question: should hiring managers start re-evaluating job requirements and adjust hiring criteria? Below are more details on the WSJ findings:
- In May, the unemployment rate dropped to a record low of 3.8%. This is the lowest it’s been since April 2000. Before that, the last time the unemployment rate was lower than this was in 1969, when the Vietnam War draft was taking place.
- The highest number of job openings in April was in the business sector, which includes accountants, administrative professionals, and software developers.
- There is also a high level of job openings in the hospitality and food services sector, with 844,000 job openings in April.
- The retail sector job openings were high as well, at 735,000 in April. Brick and mortar retail is indeed not dead.
Adjust Hiring Criteria and Remove Bias from Hiring Decisions
So, what steps should employers take to ensure they fill their job openings with qualified talent? One answer is to raise wages and improve company benefits to attract talent. The other answer is to lower certain standards a bit and adjust hiring criteria so more workers qualify as candidates. Too many hiring managers have a picture of their ideal candidate that clouds their judgement with bias in hiring decisions. To avoid this, here are some suggestions:
- Look at your job postings and consider whether the level of education required is truly necessary. You could be missing out on candidates who have all the skills you need but just haven’t obtained a degree.
- Rethink your standards on criminal histories. People make mistakes, and there are plenty of talented people out there that learn from them. Ask yourself if their past offenses have anything to do with the skills they need to perform the job in question.
- It’s 2018, and you may need to forget the picture you have in your head of the perfect candidate. In the past, tattoos and piercings were known as red flags to employers. It’s time to look past that and give people a chance if they meet requirements and show their capabilities.
Soft Skills are Most Important in a Candidate
Many of the skills needed to perform a job can be taught, such as operating a forklift or computer programming. But soft skills are much harder to teach and indicate a candidate’s ability to get along with others, adapt to new surroundings and solve problems on the job. It may be necessary to adjust your hiring criteria to focus more on soft skills, such as cultural adaptability, resiliency and critical thinking.
To find out if a candidate has the right soft skills, after their interview invite them to a company gathering to see how they interact with others. Also conduct personality assessments to get a better idea of how their values align with those of your company. Find more information in our article Hiring for Emotional Intelligence: Tips for Employers.
Author: Jessica Cody
Jessica Cody, a native of Fairfield County, Connecticut, has a background in online marketing and public relations. Currently, she works at VHMNetwork LLC in the role of Marketing Analyst. She is a graduate of the University of Connecticut, where she studied Journalism and Political Science. She is also an avid runner with a passion for the outdoors.