When not to check all boxes -

While for some of us school has already started, others are still on their well-deserved summer holiday breaks and hopefully enjoying time away from laptops, blackberrys (yes, they still do exist) and conference calls. But rest assured, the busy office days are just around the corner. And as in past years, recruitment processes will pick up full speed again by mid-September. Job descriptions are being drafted and posted. Candidates will browse job descriptions and submit their resumes. HR and hiring managers will review the resumes and compare as to whether that candidate could be the “perfect” match.

Regardless of the perspective, what exactly is that “perfect” match? Cultural fit and personality aside, when looking at the hard skills and the desired experience for a specific job, do you as a hiring manager want the candidate to bring along each and every skill you listed? Do you as a candidate really want to “check all boxes”? The obvious answer seems Yes! – on both sides.

The candidate that has drafted, reviewed and negotiated all contracts and agreements listed in the job description, has worked closely with the business, has advised senior management on strategic and corporate matters, has the relevant industry experience, speaks all languages fluently and has managed a team of 5 in his previous career, etc.? Jackpot, if that is what you had as a wish list on your job description. And please do think of your job spec as a wish list. 

However, I am always suspicious when a candidate tells me that he fulfils all requirements, has the experience and the skill-set listed on that wish list. Why then are you looking to move? – is the question I immediately ask. Why would you want to change jobs if you will basically be doing the same in the new environment? From the hiring perspective: Great, you have someone who hits the ground running from Day 1. He will still need to adjust to your company’s policies and procedures but 6 months in you’ll think he’s been there for a decade at least. But is that truly a good thing?

Candidates, at least looking at the ones I typically work with, usually look for a “more” of some sort. A new challenge, more responsibility. These candidates are motivated and eager to progress, both personally and in terms of their careers, and are missing a perspective or challenge in their current settings. These candidates are the ones a hiring manager should look out for. Someone who brings along a certain set of skills and experience, and is yet keen and eager to learn and grow further. 

I am an advocate for 80-20 in recruitment! I am interested in candidates who will bring 80% of what is required today. And I look to see if the candidate has the potential and skill set, the motivation and passion to learn the other 20% in a short space of time. That’s a win-win for both sides: the candidate will feel that he can truly progress, and the employer will know that his new employee won’t be bored 6 months after joining.
It goes without saying, a hiring manager must be aware of his ‘must-have’ criteria: there’s no point in considering a candidate for a position if that person cannot hit the ground running on one of the truly crucial skills needed. Vice versa, if compliance has not been part of your responsibility so far, please don’t apply to the Head of Compliance EMEA (m/f) role but rather look for a position which will allow you to gain the required skills instead of requiring you to have them already gained.



Photo by Leone Venter on Unsplash