by Shayne Thomas
06 Feb 2020
Don’t Overlook Your (Potentially) Best Employees
By avoiding biases in hiring, you can get a lot of long-term value out of four talent segments that all too often get “discounted” during recruiting
Unconscious bias is alive and well in the world today. It permeates every aspect of how we make decisions, influences our beliefs, attitudes, and values, and sneakily rears its ugly head in our daily actions. In the workplace, more specifically, it often plays an unspoken role in how we recruit new employees, too.
The problem here: it can also get in the way of hiring some of the best talent out there.
As the word itself suggests, unconscious bias is, in and of itself, “unconscious” at its very core. This can make it tough to nip in the bud. After all, if you were asked, “What are your unconscious biases?,” you’d probably scratch your head wondering how to best answer that question because, for you, whatever dwells in your unconscious is just part of who you are and how you operate. Many people simply aren’t aware of their own biases.
However, when it comes to recruiting talent, there are some more conscious biases that can easily be put into check—that is, as long as you’re aware of what they are—and fundamentally change your overall approach to hiring.
4 talent segments you must not overlook when hiring
Here we’ll take a look at four key talent segments that you should never be afraid to hire, even though, on paper, they may make you think twice (at least initially).
1. The Over 50’s
Age is a double-edged sword. If you’re too young, it’s assumed you don’t have enough experience. If you’re too old, recruiters may think you have too much experience and automatically assume that your experience comes with a heftier price tag. The reality is, age is just a number. However, and to our own detriment, it has become a number that we ascribe a lot of meaning to, much more than we ever should. This is especially the case whenever resumes from what we deem as “older” applicants cross our desks.
The undeniable truth is that today, we live in a culture that puts youth on a pedestal. The workplace is no exception to this rule. After all, younger workers are perceived to be more adaptable, tech-savvy, excited to learn new skills, willingly take on bigger workloads, and, from the perspective of a business’s bottom line, they also come with a lower price tag. But using your budget to hire, for example, two younger employees instead of one older and far more qualified employee isn’t always a winning strategy.
With experience comes a tremendous amount of value and, more often than not, less of a learning curve. It’s also worth mentioning that given the fact that older job seekers tend to be in the job hunting market much longer than their younger counterparts, whenever searching for new opportunities, they are typically a lot more likely to stick around once they’ve landed a gig they love. This is in stark contrast to millennials (and younger!) who have no problem hopping from job to job, even after a mere two to three years, to either gain new experiences or speed up their climb up the proverbial totem pole.
The long story short: while we may objectively realize that age is just a number, our unconscious bias oftentimes leads us to believe, for one reason or another, that younger is better from a recruitment perspective. This simply couldn’t be further from the truth. The person with the most qualifications is always better option in the long run. Perhaps it’s time your approach to recruiting and hiring job seekers that may not necessarily fit your typical “youthful” profile.
2. The Unemployed
The word “unemployed” carries a negative stigma, one that it really doesn’t deserve. If you’ve been working for, say, over ten years, there’s a very good chance that you’ve become unemployed at some point in time. It’s part of the ebb and flow of the job market. There are times when hiring is at an all-time high and then, unfortunately, other times when companies have to cut back and do the really hard work of implementing a reduction in force (aka, lay-offs).
But just because someone has been laid off or their role has been eliminated for a number of business reasons, doesn’t mean their value as a potential new hire must take a significant dip. Unemployment shouldn’t discount or discredit someone’s job application right off the bat. Just because another candidate is currently in a position doesn’t mean that they are, by default, more qualified than someone who has been actively searching—and to no avail—since they lost their job. In fact, if you think about this in terms of workplace loyalty, what would make you think that someone in a current role actively seeking new opportunities—whether it’s to lock in a promotion or earn more money—wouldn’t just as easily jump ship after being hired once a shinier, new opportunity rolls around again? (Obviously, this isn’t the case for all job seekers, but it certainly doesn’t hold the same stigma that comes along with being unemployed!)
That being said, the unfortunate reality is that unemployment has become an ugly word and all too often something that unfairly works to the detriment of very qualified and determined candidates seeking new work. Therefore, when you’ve got a lot of positions to fill, don’t discourage those who’ve endured a morale-crippling RIF to apply. Why not go the extra mile by adding “People who are currently unemployed are encouraged to apply” to your job descriptions. This alone will speak volumes about your hiring practices and your willingness to consider all qualified talent, regardless of their current work situation.
3. The “Not-Quite-Right”
How many times have you written a job description for a candidate that probably doesn’t exist? We’ve all been there, hoping, praying, and keeping all optimism alive that there’s a “unicorn” candidate out there that meets all your criteria and, by chance, will see your job description.
As HR professionals, you know by now that these unicorns are the equivalent of a diamond in the rough. They may exist, but you’ll likely be hard-pressed to find them—and if you do, there’s no guarantee that they’ll be open to new opportunities when you’re in active recruitment mode. So, why put yourself through all this pain and suffering when, instead, you can focus your efforts on finding talent that could easily grow into the unicorn role you’ve created?
When creating job descriptions, you must delineate between “must haves” and “nice to haves” —and make sure that everyone involved in the hiring process is on the same page. This will not only open you up to considering a wider variety of equally qualified candidates, but it will also ensure that your approach to evaluating potential candidates is consistent across all key stakeholders involved in the process.
This doesn’t mean that you have to lower your expectations or hiring standards; it just means you have to be realistic. To balance these oftentimes unrealistic expectations, while interviewing potential new hires, be on the lookout for candidates who demonstrate a true hunger to learn. After all, with the right learning and development tools in place, like Cornerstone Learning, you can actually create your unicorn employee with little effort. All it takes is hiring someone who’s willing to develop and grow in their career. And when they know that your business is there to support them along the way, guess what, they’ll probably stick around for the long haul.
4. The Remote Worker
Working remotely has become a growing—and increasingly accepted—trend over the last few years. But for some companies, it’s still a bit of a hurdle to overcome.
There are two big things to keep in mind about the state of remote working today:
- Many businesses offer remote employment opportunities, whether full-time, part-time, or contract, meaning that remote workers have more choices than ever before to build their career and earn a stable income without having to abide by the normal 9-5 in-the-office rules. So, if you aren’t open to considering remote workers, there’s a good chance another company will nab a great employee.
- Technology has revolutionized the way people work. The traditional office space, while great for interacting face-to-face with fellow coworkers and managers, is no longer a prerequisite for actually getting work done. If you’ve got the right tools, platforms, and processes in place to ensure that work can get done (successfully) from virtually anywhere, then you can cast a wider net when recruiting new employees.
Here’s the added benefit: for employees that value flexibility above everything else, offering remote working can boost their loyalty to your business. And it’s been shown, time and time again, that hiring remote workers can actually boost productivity in a big way. After all, when they’ve got a job they love and the flexibility to work from anywhere—as long as they are able to get their work done—why would they ever want to leave? The answer is: they likely won’t. Job satisfaction goes way beyond simply loving what you do today; it’s about being able to do that work—and do it well—whenever and wherever.
Your best new employee is just around the corner…
While we’d like to believe that humans can eliminate unconscious bias on their own, we aren’t going to bet on it. That’s why we firmly support implementing tools, like Cornerstone’s recruiting solutions, to help eliminate—or, at least, minimize—unconscious bias as much as possible. By doing so, not only are you investing in smart tools to help find the right candidates for your open roles, but you’re also implementing objective processes that will ensure you recruit, evaluate, and hire all of your candidates based on their qualifications and not on other subjective criteria—like age, employment status, alignment to a virtually unattainable job descriptions, or whether or not they’re actually located in the same city as your office.
It’s time to say good-bye to biases in hiring and bring a new level of objectivity to how you recruit new talent. If you’re not sure where to start, Cornerstone is here to help. Learn more about our many recruiting solutions today.