When you are looking to fill a position in your company, what criteria do you use to inform your hiring decisions? If you set requirements that are too exacting, such as requiring a specific degree or a certain number of years' experience, you could exclude some candidates who could have been a great fit for your organization. Let's take a look at the benefits of looking at potential rather than credentials when hiring new employees.

Strict Credential Requirements Exclude Good Candidates

If the role you're looking to fill is an entry-level job, ask yourself whether it's really a requirement for applicants to have college degrees. Turning entry-level positions into jobs that require four-year college degrees can exclude a large pool of applicants, including many ambitious individuals who decided to plunge straight into the world of work rather than building up debt at college. Once an HR department has imposed strict credential requirements on a particular role, they can develop a mental block around lowering them. However, with 43 percent of employers saying they struggle to find enough candidates to fill entry-level jobs, it's clearly time to rethink whether a college degree is really necessary for every role within your organization.

The Benefits of Focusing on Potential

The benefits that an employee can bring to your organization don't depend entirely on how many years' experience that person has, but on their potential to fit into your company culture and come up with ideas that can make your organization thrive. If you focus too narrowly on past experience when hiring, you could end up with a workforce that is unable to adapt to changing market dynamics. Instead, look for applicants that have the potential to adapt to new situations, as well as people who can bring something new to your organization. Often, these will be applicants with non-traditional career backgrounds and diverse work histories. While their knowledge of certain aspects of the job might be lacking,  this is often a problem that can be corrected through a short period of training, especially if the prospect can demonstrate in the interview the potential to effectively learn on the job.

Identifying Talented Applicants

Once you've realized the benefits of hiring for potential rather than credentials, you need to figure out how to spot that potential in your recruiting process. One option is to use a hiring system that tests the skills of applicants, differentiating those with the potential to learn how to do the job from those who look good on paper but will flounder in the workplace. For example, you could ask applicants for a customer service job to answer a customer email or handle a sample call with a customer. By putting applicants on the spot like this, you can identify those who can think on their feet to deliver a good performance for your company.

Rather than setting specific degree or credential requirements for all roles within your organization, try to take a more flexible approach that involves getting to know each candidate as an individual. Using video interviews, rather than traditional resumes, is a good way to find candidates who seem like a good fit, while tests that assess the ability of each candidate to do the job can be a great way to identify the applicants with the most potential. By overhauling your hiring process in this way, you can avoid excluding candidates who can help your organization develop in new directions.

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