Naturally, employers always want to employ the best talent for their open roles. To many people, the best talent means the candidate that fits the job criteria most closely.
However, finding a candidate who can grow into their role may actually be the best choice – both for you and them.
The paradox of choice
Employers are spoiled for choice when it comes to hiring candidates. There are many talented individuals out there – all vying for the same positions.
With so many talented individuals in the job market, I think employers sometimes suffer from the paradox of choice. This refers to the phenomenon that when there are many options on offer, we often struggle to decide what we want and when we do decide, we are often left unsatisfied with our choice.
I often see employers take an overly long time to make a decision about candidates for vacant positions. This can lead to apathy among candidates and employers may lose out on talented prospects who become frustrated with their indecisiveness.
Finding your unicorn candidate
With so many talented individuals in the job market, I notice employers holding out for their ‘unicorn candidates’. In an environment saturated with talent, surely someone exists who matches their expectations 100%?
Maybe they do sometimes. But not always. Even if a ‘unicorn candidate’ does exist, often their motivation for the job is lacking. This absence of motivation is often exaggerated by employers dragging their heels through the hiring process in their search for the perfect candidate.
Employers are getting hiring wrong by looking for the perfect candidate. Maybe that seems counterintuitive on the surface but let me explain.
Taking care of employees is an algorithmic art
In HR, L&D departments apply the S curve of learning model to maximise employee productivity and engagement.
The S Curve refers to the idea that these two markers of performance are shaped like the letter “S”. The curve starts off low at the beginning of an employee’s tenure with a company. It then increases as the employee becomes more familiar with their role and the company’s culture before levelling off or declining as the employee becomes burnt out or disengaged.
HR professionals need to be aware of this pattern. It’s important to anticipate this trajectory in your employees’ experience at work and to take steps to keep them engaged and productive.
Don’t pick the perfect candidate – pick the almost-perfect one
Putting the S Curve into practice when hiring boils down to not hiring the perfect candidate but the one that almost fits all your criteria.
If you hire your ‘unicorn candidate’, who is a 100% match for the job you’re looking to fill, the chances of them being entirely motivated by the same job that they’ve been doing for the last few years are low. They are likely to become disengaged more quickly because the tasks feel repetitive. These candidates are also more likely to leave the job sooner due to their lack of motivation.
Employers set on finding a perfect candidate are therefore approaching the hiring process in a way that will hinder both them and the candidate. Instead, organisations should hire the candidate that is a 75% match for the position. They already have the core skills and experience needed to do the job yet they will also feel a challenge through the 25% missing capabilities. As a result, their engagement in their new role lasts longer and as an employer, you can expect a longer-term commitment from them.
Find the candidate who grows with you
It might be tempting to pick the candidate that fits the criteria word-for-word. However, taking on a candidate that evidently possesses enough of the core capabilities to do the job but not all of the criteria for the role, pays off for both you and your employees in the long run.