As the economy returns to full strength, ideal candidates become tougher to find. Hiring managers begin to miss the days when a candidate would appear with every qualification listed in the job posting. Today, finding your next A-player is still possible – but it takes more effort and a more nuanced look at the candidates who apply.
A candidate whose resume doesn’t quite meet all the qualifications listed for the position might still be an ideal choice. Here’s how to examine an underqualified candidate more closely in order to decide.
- Don’t skip underqualified candidates. A candidate who is fresh out of college or making a mid-career change might not have the exact experience you dreamed of when you created the job posting. Still, don’t skip these candidates.
- Look for a desire and ability to learn. Candidates who lack specific experience with this job present an opportunity to employers: The chance to teach the employee how to do the job exactly the way your company needs it done. To find the best candidate in this situation, look for those who demonstrate both a desire and an ability to learn quickly and independently. Candidates who took extra classes in college even though they weren’t required for the major, who are currently taking classes in a career-related field, or who recently took up a new hobby that requires effort and focus, already demonstrate both the initiative and the ability to take instruction and pick up new skills quickly.
- Inquire into their “soft skills.” “Soft skills,” also known as “transferable skills,” are skills that are not job-specific. Instead, they are necessary for success in any position. Communication abilities, time management, organization and leadership abilities are all skills that will serve a candidate well as he or she learns the ropes in this job. They’ll also prepare a candidate to advance to more challenging work. Focus on soft skills in order to find the right person for the job.
- Talk to your recruiter. Your staffing partner has spent time with each candidate they recommend. If they send you a seemingly underqualified candidate, don’t hesitate to ask what makes the candidate special. You’ll gain a perspective on the candidate that you may not find anywhere else.