As someone who has spent many years in a private sector global staffing company and in the public workforce system, I know how challenging it can be to help people who need jobs find jobs.
Even during times when we are all hearing about the “war for talent” and that it’s an “employee market,” there are talented, hard-working people who have difficulties finding their fit in the world of work. I’m not talking about the “unemployable”, those with little desire to work or major barriers which need to be addressed before they can do a great job – I’m talking about people with excellent skills, experience, and work ethic. People with abilities, and the desire to work. Veterans. Skilled factory workers or miners who lost their job due to a cutback or company closure. People wanting to change careers without knowing how to best translate their transferable skills to their resumes.
At the same time, I work with companies every day that struggle to find people to fill their jobs. Some companies rush to post a job with little preparation and make offers to find they have hired a talented person who does not fit with their culture. Some rely on systems which use keyword searches for specific skills and GPA cutoffs and then they wonder why their pool of candidates is so small.
As someone who sees both sides, there is much common ground. What it takes for different groups to see common ground is communication and education. A common need which is filled for both sides. Simple, right?
Companies want and need to increase their diversity. It gives them greater perspective, enhanced innovation and increased productivity. It brings a stronger culture, and builds a talent brand which, in turn, attracts more and better candidates.
Diverse groups of people (meaning all types of diversity including age, gender, ethnicity, socioeconomic background, work experience, etc.) want to offer their talents in a place they feel they fit. They want to grow on the job and in their careers.
How do we make the match? In part we need to have better communication and better data. By describing the job requirements more accurately we can broaden our pool and attract people who are more likely to fit the role. By following the data we may learn that instead of demanding a specific master’s degree for a job, the company might get a great fit with someone who’s done something completely different, but has demonstrated the character, intelligence, and work ethic to be successful. In other words, looking beyond the one to one fit that so often defines the recruitment strategy.
In addition to better communication between the organization and the candidate, we also need better communication about the candidate. Specifically, we need a comprehensive profile of the candidate’s personality, skills, knowledge and experience, and we need insights into where and how to coach them if we want them to grow into the position.
When looking to increase your diversity, realize that if you post widely, use a broad range of predictors, and combine the results of your assessments in a statistically optimal manner, you will naturally end up selecting people with a wide array of backgrounds without having to “force it.”
Included in your group will be people with interesting stories and life experience that will bring diversity, retention and higher productivity to your team.