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  • 13 March 2019
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By: Karen Waldrop, CSC
VP of Strategic Services, Staffmark Group

U.S. job openings hit an all-time high this past year resulting in a talent shortage. To compete in this tight market, some companies are revisiting their job requirements to widen their talent pool. That is, many are reducing the required education and/or experience or adjusting the screening process.

Here’s why some companies are revisiting their hiring criteria and how you can successfully adopt this strategy.

Rigid education requirements reduce the candidate pool.  

Employers often see a degree as a good indication that applicants possess hard skills, such as project management, research, or data analysis, and soft skills, including communication, problem-solving, and critical thinking. While a valid assumption, it’s important to remember that a degree isn’t always necessary.

Consider this statistic: in 2015, 67 percent of job postings for a production supervisor required a college degree, yet only 16 percent of production supervisors actually had a degree.

Many employers are lowering their educational requirements – and, in many cases, getting creative. For example, at IBM, instead of requiring a degree for all jobs, the company has partnered with community colleges to find new hires. They even launched an apprenticeship program to create its own talent pipeline.

Many companies have followed suit. In the first half of 2018, job posts asking for a college degree dropped to 30 percent, down from 32 percent in 2017.

A mentorship or on-the-job training program may be sufficient.

Like degree requirements, employers are also reviewing the experience necessary to do the job. As of 2018, only 23 percent of entry-level jobs now require three or more years of experience, down from 29 percent in 2012.

What’s more, one million jobs were posted with “no experience necessary,” which attracts talent who wouldn’t otherwise apply for the job.

If you’re thinking about changing the requirements for a given role, a little due diligence is helpful:

  1. Review the job requirements. Separate out your “must-haves” and your “nice-to-haves.” Use this information to rework the job description.
  2. Document the reasons for the change. This step is primarily for internal purposes and to protect the company from potential legal problems.
  3. Reevaluate the interview process. A change in job requirements often means a change in how you screen and filter applicants, including the interview questions you ask.
  4. Look into skills assessments. If a job no longer requires a degree, yet certain skills are necessary, you may want to include a skills-based assessment in the interview process. This type of testing could help identify candidates you wouldn’t otherwise consider.
  5. Track applicants. If you don’t see any improvements in the quantity of applicants, you may need to make further adjustments. Also, make sure the quality of talent isn’t affected by this change.

Drug screening can be an artificial barrier to recruitment.  

Changing attitudes on marijuana have led a growing number of companies to rethink pre-employment screening protocols. Many employers argue that it’s become an unnecessary obstacle— not ideal in a tight job market. Besides, marijuana is now legal for recreation in 10 states and for medical use in 33 states. Some employers question if they should only screen those employees in “non-legalized” states.

But before you roll back marijuana screening for applicants, consider the potential business implications. For one, there are some safety concerns with drug use in certain industries, such as trucking and manufacturing. There can also be issues with worker’s compensation. If someone becomes injured while under the influence, the insurer could deny coverage. This could then bring into question the employer’s negligence.

If you do decide to change your drug testing policy:

  • Consider the safety concerns of the job
  • Create on-the-job regulations in regards to marijuana use and possession
  • Train managers on the warning signs of employees under the influence
  • Monitor how the changes impact employee recruitment and retention

Keep this in mind: relaxing your hiring criteria doesn’t mean you have to lower your standards. Your strategy can still be discerning, without being restrictive. The goal is to widen your talent pool and focus on the most important hiring criteria.

If you’re experiencing a talent crunch, contact us today! A member of our team can help review the job requirements for any position and make suggestions for potential changes to best respond to the current job market. We’d also be more than happy to sit down with you to find the best possible candidate for the role.