The Current Workforce Reality
Despite the most recent U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistic report showing payrolls increase and unemployment rate falling, the Mass Exodus employers were forewarned of back in spring of this year continues to happen. At the start of 2021, major powerhouse corporations such as Microsoft and NPR estimated that over 40% of the Global Workforce were considering leaving their employers. Unfortunately, many businesses still have yet to shift the way they recruit and retain top talent, and many companies are dealing with staggering attrition and retention rates as a result.
A new recruitment strategy must be adopted if corporations are to continue to be strategic and competitive in the bourgeoning economy. Whether employers have ignored the warnings or not, the reality is this: as of September 2021, the unemployment rate has come down 2.5% and nearly 2.5 million new jobs have become available since September 2020.
Whatever economic opportunity we lost at the beginning of the COVID-19 Pandemic has now in many ways been restored, and herein lies the problem. Employers are having a harder time than ever finding qualified workers for available jobs.
The candidate pool has quite possibly never been this limited, and because many employers have yet to evolve their recruitment and retention paradigm, it is taking talent acquisition professionals way longer than usual to fill empty positions.
So how do we address this? Employers must pivot from the skill-centered job description to a passion-centered one. Unless you are truly in a hyper-specialized niche industry such as healthcare and are trying to recruit a medical professional, skills can be easily taught on the job. Passion cannot. Employers who recruit with job descriptions that include a list of required qualifications a mile long are limiting the candidate pool way more than necessary. The fact is there are really only two qualifications needed for most of the open positions out there: passion for the job and the ability to learn.
Choosing Passion Over Proficiency
Recruiting and retention is all about tapping into a candidate or employee’s motive to accept or stay at a job. Recruiting and retention have everything to do with the employee, and not so much the employer. Most people stay at a job for one of two reasons. Either they stay because the money and benefits are good, or else they stay because they love what they do. Obviously, employers want employees who are both extensively qualified and passionate, but as the news continues to remind us, there are not loads of candidates like that available right now. This leaves employers with two options for finding and retaining workers to run their businesses.
Employers can waste three months or longer recruiting for the perfect fabled corporate unicorn who is both flawlessly qualified and exudes a unique passion for the job. The risk with this option is that experience can be falsified or exaggerated during the interview process, and the skills can be so fine tuned that there is not much room for flexibility or innovative thinking. The other risk with this option is that such an ideal candidate simply does not exist.
Employers can cast a wider net into the available pool of talent, quickly identify someone hungry to learn and passionate for the job, and then spend three months training and investing in them until they become the exact type of perfect fabled corporate unicorn they needed and wanted for the role. Finding someone who truly wants the job, is passionate about the work, and is willing to learn is a lot easier to find than the stereotypical dream candidate who may or may not even exist… or else is currently unavailable.
The argument here is that by the time an employer spends three months recruiting their perfect candidate who may or may not be passionate and who’s skills have yet to be put to the test, they could have just hired someone passionate about the job and trained them.
Hire for Passion and Train for Proficiency
It is far more strategic in today’s market for employers to pivot their thinking and realize that skills can be taught and passion cannot. If a company finds a candidate who is passionate and coach-able, then they have everything they need to continue being successful.
The global economy is currently in a period of change. People discovered new talents and new ways to work amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic, and as a result they are shifting courses in their careers, starting online businesses, or choosing to be self-employed. The reason why there is a deficit in available candidates for current job openings, is because employee’s values have changed. Check.
Employers must now evolve and respond to this change in employee values by being willing to hire for those values. Checkmate!
Benefits to Hiring for Passion
Hiring for passion over skill set is not that much more of a risk than hiring someone for their skill set over their passion. Here are just a few reasons why hiring for passion and then training for skill set is a better retention strategy.
1. Want Self-Motivate Employees: People who are motivated are more likely to be successful than people who are not. Qualified people are knowledgeable. Passionate people are self-motivated.
2. Need Innovative Employees: Being qualified is not the same or necessarily a prerequisite to being innovative. Innovation requires doing what has never been done before. And what fuels innovation? Passion. Something companies need during this time of change.
3. Appreciated Growing Employees: To stay competitive, we must keep learning and growing in knowledge. This means that someone who is qualified today may not be qualified in the hyper-competitive job market of tomorrow. Qualifications are just trends that change with time. Passion on the other hand is timeless, and passionate people can be flexible and grow in every season of change.
How to Hire for Passion
Pivoting-focus hiring is a process. It can require a complete cultural shift in the way hiring managers operate, but it is worth it. Here is how to get started.
1. Re-write your job descriptions and reduce the number of qualifications listed. Shift the narrative of the job description to prioritize innovation and passion over experience and skill set.
2. Come up with new qualifications. For example, instead of asking for three years of CRM experience, ask for three professional examples of how that potential-employee demonstrated innovation with technology.
3. Change the way you interview. Stop administering interviews the same way you might go through a checklist. Focus more on having a conversation and find a way to quantify qualitative accomplishments.
4. Be brave and take a courageous chance. Think about it. You take a chance with every new hire, so you might as well find someone with a driven and coach-able personality and then teach them the skills you want them to perform.
It’s a Win-Win!
In order to be successful in the economic game of chess currently happening, we have to change strategies and try more innovative approaches. If companies are willing to hire the applicants available in today’s candidate pool then we can take advantage of the current shift happening in the workforce and finally come closer to achieving that elusive win-win between employer and employee. Unlike qualifying skill-sets, passion does not have an expiration date. By considering passionate candidates in addition to the available qualified candidates, employers can grow and retain a new workforce with unlimited potential.