While there has been a general assumption that low compensation is driving people to seek out new opportunities amid the Great Resignation, the reality is that people are not just quitting their jobs because higher-paying ones are becoming available. In fact, research shows that two-thirds of people left their jobs in 2021 due to workforce issues related to engagement and general well-being.
A more appropriate term for what we’re seeing is the “Great Re-evaluation”–where, in the wake of this crisis, people are taking the time to reset their expectations and ambitions for how, where, and why they work. With the war for talent expected to intensify this year, there are several key steps hiring managers need to take to secure the best talent that can help organizations rebuild and grow.
Throw out conventional job requirements
With so much disruption and displacement taking place in the labor market, and more available job openings than job seekers, hiring managers must look beyond traditional candidates and talent pools to get the breadth and depth of experience they’re looking for in candidates. Instead of looking for college degrees, technical skill sets, or years of related experience, hiring managers need to do more to seek out applicants with transferable skills from other industries or job types. Transferable skills can range from hard or technical skills (like PowerPoint and Google Analytics) to soft or bespoke skills, like critical thinking, communication, and empathy. For example, a hostess at a restaurant could be an excellent fit for a virtual assistant role where customer service skills are key.
To attract these applicants, employers should take a hard look at job descriptions. Ensure the language is simple, specify a range of industries or experiences that could be a good fit rather than being overly prescriptive, and remove industry jargon where applicable that may cause great candidates to feel under-qualified and discouraged from applying.
When interviewing candidates from other industries, try to stray from one-dimensional questions like, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” Instead, focus on behavioral questions that invite candidates to share example-driven answers that can shine a light on past experiences and reveal portable skills that the candidate may bring to a new industry or job type. This prompts applicants to be less scripted and more conversational in their responses. Examples include:
- Can you tell me about a time where you had to be adaptable?
- Describe a time when a project felt particularly hard. What did you do to succeed?
- Tell me about a time when you failed. What did you learn?
Prioritize people over process
Companies are increasingly automating their interview process to help reduce costs, eliminate biases, and ensure that the evaluation process is the same unilaterally for every hire (with up to 86% of employers now relying on job interviews mediated by technology). The downside of this is that we still know very little about how these tech-driven interviews impact candidates. This comes at a time when workers are increasingly looking for organizations that put people first, offer more flexibility, and have better workplace cultures. So dehumanizing the interview process can discourage candidates from seeing the interview process all the way through.
To attract top talent, hiring teams need to build plans and strategies that focus more on putting people first and building human capital rather than optimizing labor costs and standardization. Start by asking the following:
- Can we be more flexible in terms of how we conduct interviews (i.e., scheduling interviews outside of traditional work hours to accommodate existing work schedules or at-home responsibilities for working parents)?
- Can we provide take-home tests to candidates vs. real-time skill assessments? Are these assignments necessary for all roles?
- Does the recruitment technology we’re using benefit our organization more than it benefits candidates? And if so, are there alternatives we should consider?
Rethink how you demonstrate your value proposition
Finally, as individuals re-assess how they want to spend their time, top talent want work that aligns with their passions and values. Likewise, leading companies are looking for new hires who understand the bigger picture and want to bring their passions into their day-to-day work. Hiring managers trying to attract these employees should proactively incorporate their company’s mission and values into every step of the interview process.
Interviewers should be prepared to answer questions from candidates about company values, with specific examples and proof points about how a company’s mission impacts its operations. For example, a business with strong roots to the communities where it operates could outline volunteer programs or community partnerships important to the company.
Interviewers can also pose questions that help evaluate how a candidate may fit into the company culture. For example:
- Lifelong learning and career development are huge priorities within our organization. Would you be open to skills training and learning and develop opportunities as this role evolves over time? Are there specific areas or technical skills you’re hoping to develop?
- We know work is changing, and we’re trying to evolve in parallel based on our team’s preferences. What are your thoughts on remote work or flexible work weeks? What are you hoping for in your next role?
- What matters most to you in your 9-5?
While the Great Re-evaluation has proven to be a candidate’s market, companies can leverage the hiring process as a moment to stand apart from competitors and create memorable and engaging experiences that win over top talent and create new ambassadors for their brand. One thing is certain: modern organizations must continually evolve their hiring process, embracing every new normal and looking boldly to the future.
Jâlie Cohen is the Group SVP of HR, Americas at the Adecco Group, and she specializes in executive coaching, strategic planning, change management, conflict resolution, inclusive talent programs, and business transformations.