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Jun 12, 2018
This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.

As Bob Dylan sang, “Oh the times they are a changin”… The question is, are we changing with them? Depending on the size of your business, interviews, and skills evaluation are not something that is often trained. Because of this, people lean on what they know and in many cases what you know has been passed down from years of “tried and true” processes that may not apply to today’s hiring climate. How about ridiculous interview questions like, “how many ping pong balls could you fit in the overhead compartment of a 747?” Or, “if I asked you to move that box of rocks from one side of the room to the other 100 times a day, what would you say?” Honestly, there is value to questions like these about the critical thinking of our candidates. The idea was, how is this candidate going to break apart this issue and what steps will they take to solve it? This used to be a decent assessment of those skills for a small number of positions, but not every job under the sun.

As unemployment continues to drop it is essential to be agile and look internally for ways to improve talent acquisition, and ditching the old school should be at the top of your list. Below are five recruiting missteps/mistakes that are potentially causing you to overlook great candidates. Nothing is more frustrating than passing on a great candidate and having them pick up a job with your competition. Follow this advice to increase your candidate pool and potentially decrease your time to hire.

  • The One-Page Resume

How can you get all your experience into a one-page format that is going to sell your expertise? Well, you can’t. I am not saying write a novel, but a job title and three bullets are not going to land your next job. Write your experience in an understandable and quantifiable way, for great advice on how to do this read this article here. Don’t forget systems that you have used and your level of proficiency with those systems. It is essential for a recruiter to be able to see why you were hired, what projects you worked on and what was your actual role in the project. Most importantly what were the results?

On the hiring side, it is essential to note candidates have been told to write 1-page resumes which forces them to leave off details. The point is this that it is a piece of paper, you need to read between the lines and use some logical thought to what a candidate has been doing in their career, rather than just throwing resumes away because they did not fit into what you consider to be an excellent candidate. Judging a technical candidate on their ability to format a resume is absurd, but for roles that show great attention to detail, this could be a little more important.

  • Beware The “Job Hopper”

With the gig economy on the rise, you will be on the losing end of the talent race if you disqualify candidates that have changed jobs “frequently.” The amount of people staying in careers over two years is steadily on the decline as more and more employees are taking on contracts. Check out this Fast Company article that states people that stay in jobs longer than two years make 50% less than their counterparts. It is staggering. It is well known the best way to advance in your career is to move positions, rather than being stuck in a merit cycle that only rewards 2-3% a year even for exceptional performance. I can hear the comments now, “I can’t afford to bring on good people and train them only to have them leave in two years.” My response, figure out how to keep them or be happy for the time you had them. Side note for candidates, make sure you have a reason for short duration’s, and they can be explained in an interview. Being fired every two years says one thing, moving every two years after successful completion of a contract or project to take on more responsibility says another.

  • Disqualifying for Grammar or Spelling

Attending my first SourceCon conference, I saw a presentation by Glen Cathey that went over the idea of “Dark Matter” in recruiting. I promise you a physics lesson is not coming. Dark Matter is the idea that there exists a whole world out there that you do not see when running your boolean searches, and the best recruiters know how to tap into the Dark Matter. For example, people on LinkedIn are spelling their title as Engineeer vs. Engineer. Now, why would they do that? Well unfortunately sometimes recruiters are our own worst enemy, and our aggressive nature has caused some great candidates to hide. Yes, they don’t want to be contacted. For this reason, you will see some intentional misspellings of traditional job titles.

In the case of accidental misspellings and grammar errors, if the role is technical in nature, lets, please call off the grammar police. Again, use your judgment on this, if you are hiring a technical writer, this will be much more important than if you are hiring a coder. This is where the human side of recruiting also comes in. Did you have the candidate rush you an updated resume? Be the empathetic hiring manager and understand the human on the other end of the resume.

  • Unwillingness to Jump Through Hoops = Not Serious About Job

“If they were serious about the job they would fill out the long form application before an interview.” My eyes just literally rolled out of my head on to the floor. Great candidates are passive, in careers and needing a little bit of red carpet to be rolled out. We need to ditch this “they would be lucky to work here” attitude and realize we are selling. Selling them on why they want to work here and what is in it for them. Great candidates have options, who wants to spend an hour filling out paperwork when they already have a job? They want to spend time outside of work, not working.

  • Requiring a College Degree for Entry-Level Jobs

I just asked my team if they thought there is any reason a degree should be required for most jobs and they said, “not less you’re performing surgery or building bridges.” I know this may not be a popular thought, and am not downplaying the value of a college education, but why is it necessary? If you are looking for a measure of intelligence, what is a better decision, taking on student loans and signing up for a lifetime of debt, or making the decision not to do that and enter the workforce? I want to be clear that I am not advocating this, however, as employers, we need to change the conversation and be open to candidates that have elected to forgo college and start gaining experience.

This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.
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