Redefining the perfect candidate
21/10/2019 by MRL
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Employers spend enormous amounts of resources, trying to find the perfect candidate’ to join their team. Someone with just the right balance of knowledge, experience and potential to move them closer to meeting their goals.
At MRL, we believe that there can be a ‘right fit’ and a ‘perfect match’, but we don’t necessarily believe that there is a ‘perfect’ candidate. Even if you find somebody who perfectly fits the bill, you will either need to upskill them or hire someone else to plug the skills gap in time.
Instead, we encourage our clients to keep an open mind and consider an ‘imperfect’ candidate. Here’s why:
Where there is a skills gap, there are also disparities in the required knowledge among candidates entering the market. What is needed to build and maintain modern technology, whether in the semiconductor, renewable energy or automotive space, wasn’t covered in degree courses five or ten years ago. Although it is included now, recent graduates don’t have the three-to-five years of experience required by many organisations.
Employers need candidates with the knowledge now covered in university studies, but the experience only available from candidates who can’t boast an ultra-modern education. Not to mention that in another five or ten years, the tech industry will have evolved again, putting businesses in a similar position that they are in now.
To combat the disconnect, nets must be cast wider and further afield as businesses reconsider what they believe to be the ‘perfect candidate’. Such people are few and far between in any given industry, nevermind one that is already in need of more boots on the ground. Gaining a market edge here is critical to continue business development and attract candidates in the market for new opportunities.
If the experience or skillset on a CV doesn’t quite line up with exactly what you’re after and you’re becoming increasingly stretched in finding one that does, it’s time to go back to the drawing board and consider an ‘imperfect’ candidate.
This is where transferable skills come into the equation – candidates with experience in research and development (R&D), for example, will showcase an invaluable problem-solving mentality, as well as the aptitude to learn new things.
In redefining the perfect candidate, you have to accept that there will be a large element of on-the-job learning required, so look for candidates who have proven they can do this.
This is also an area in which to consider the battle between passion and skill set – someone whose passion for the sector outweighs their current ability will ultimately prove a more worthwhile hire than someone at the other end of the scale. Passionate people are more interested in learning and, in the long run, will therefore become a more rounded, more talented hire for the business.
Don’t just focus on your newest recruits when offering learning and development opportunities. Opening this offer to the entire team will change how your current staff view you as an employer, which changes the external perception of would-be employees. Your people are the most important asset in your business, so you must show that you are willing to invest in them.
Candidates are now more interested than ever before in learning opportunities, wanting to further themselves both personally and professionally rather than just chasing a big pay packet.
By its very nature, the tech sector is fast-paced and ever-changing – letting your employees and prospective hires stagnate instead of moving with the sector will do nothing but damage your organisation both in a business sense and reputationally.
It takes time and investment, whether that is constructing development plans, hiring a permanent training manager, or bringing in temporary employees to ease the workload and pass on their knowledge to your permanent staff members, but the payoff is indisputable.
When it comes to hiring candidates in the midst of a shortage, business leaders must have their eye on the long term. A lack of talent will hinder growth, prevent organisations from winning projects and ultimately leave them struggling to meet deadlines and contractual obligations.
Start by redefining the ‘perfect’ candidate – your priority should be finding someone who shows the ability and desire to learn new things rather than having the exact track record you currently believe your organisation needs.
Go back to candidates you glossed over and see if there is a hidden gem that you can polish. Taking a candidate on board and helping them progress makes them more likely to stick around for longer, which is a win-win situation.
Whatever your hiring needs, we can find the ‘imperfect’ person for your role. Get in touch with us to find out more.