I recently read an article in USA Today talking about the shortage of qualified candidates and how employers have to be satisfied with candidates that meet a portion of their job description while sacrificing other requirements in order to get someone in the position.
I am seeing a couple of things going on in the job market that has me thinking this article totally missed the mark.
1 - Employers would not have to lower their expectations if they don’t start off looking for a unicorn.
2 - If your job description is totally unrealistic qualified candidates won’t even bother applying.
The other day I read a job description for a Director of Acquisition and one of the requirements was a B.S. in Computer Science or other quantitative field (Mathematics, Statistics, etc.) from a top tier institution preferred. I know dozens of great acquisition marketers that would not meet this requirement. Is this really what is important in this role or is that fact that they are analytical in their approach to acquisition marketing what they really need?
We all learned about right brain, left brain in biology class. A "left-brained" person is often said to be more logical, analytical, and objective. A person who is "right-brained" is said to be more intuitive, thoughtful, and subjective. I have seen this play out in my own children. I have children who were born creative, free thinkers, always looking to break molds and stir things up a bit. I also have children (I have 5 so yes, I mean the plural, children), who are very analytical, like order, typically want to fit in the mold and enjoy rules and order. While there are times, in certain circumstances, you will see them cross over, they dominantly fall on one side of the fence in how they maneuver through life. This is why I will never understand the job descriptions that clearly seek both a left-brained and a right-brained person in one. Can the same person be really good at managing a team, driving strategy, designing pretty images and writing code?
Let me be clear, I am not saying companies can’t hire one person to wear many hats, especially startups where a flexible employees get stuff done, even when it is not their job. Just because someone is comfortable getting their hands dirty when it is time to get stuff done, doesn’t mean they will apply for your job riddled with unrealistic expectations.
So, how do you proactively search for the right person for the job instead of waiting for a unicorn to appear out of nowhere?
Decide what characteristics make up this type of person. Many skills can be taught along the way but characteristics are for the most part inherent. If you need a customer success manager don’t hire an introvert that doesn’t really like talking with people. If you need a project manager find ways to test their attention to detail.
Look for someone who knows their own strengths and weaknesses. Are they willing to seek outside resources when something is not in their wheelhouse. Honesty, humility and resourcefulness are often just as important as actual skills.
Create a unique culture where everyone has the chance to succeed and enjoy their job. When people enjoy their job they tell their friends who they feel would best fit in. If a majority of your positions aren’t being filled by referrals from your own staff, you might have an issue much bigger than finding a unicorn. If you hired for skills fit without taking into account how they treat other people, your unicorn can quickly become a cancer in your organization.
It is time to get rid of the fluff and really go after what your organization needs most. If you don’t have a realistic expectations about your needs, chances are the right candidate will find someone who does.
Author: KC Cox
Contribution: Ryan Andrew
My name is KC DeKorte-Cox and I am a demand generation marketing expert with over 15 years of experience focused primarily on helping businesses with marketing and sales alignment strategies aimed at driving growth. I help design marketing and sales programs that scale by leveraging the power of technology, specifically CRM and Marketing Automation.