In recruitment, we're almost always required to find perfect candidates to begin hard-to-fill jobs that required them to start a month ago - in our game, time is a luxury that we're very often short of. Reactive hiring can be difficult, time-consuming, and expensive and it often results with a hire that matches your client's current needs but not their future needs.
That's why it's so important to find out what the job you're working on could lead to as these new hires can evolve to meet challenges beyond the current market needs, alongside being a good fit for now too. So, what characteristics should you be looking for when trying to find the stars of the future?
1. Fast Learners, Not Experts
Technology is now advancing faster than ever, and the skills of so-called 'experts' can be rendered obsolete within the space of months. Purple squirrel candidates work hard to stay up to date with relevant trends in their industry, developing new skills to keep them competitive. They're fast learners first, experts second.
The up-and-coming Generation Z are the first true digital natives, and their ability to adapt their skill-set with ease will be their biggest advantage. Your recruitment and selection process should include candidates who have a basic knowledge that covers a multitude of different media types; they'll instinctively use new software, gadgets, and methods of communication with ease.
2. Motivation Trumps Skill
When trying to screen potential candidates, motivation is much more important than skill. If a candidate isn't driven and has no desire to grow and advance over the course of their career, then, even if they're an exceptional candidate, they've got a short shelf life. You may be able to place them now, but you'll struggle to work with them again in the future. When assessing a candidate's motivation level, ask about their goals and expectations, not only for this role, but for their career as a whole.
3. Competence Over Experience
Consider younger candidates who may not have specific on paper skills or years of experience but who are clearly competent and able to learn. For example, the new generation of candidates coming into the job market have grown up through a recession and have learned plenty of life skills - they've been coached and guided into taking on internships, working part time jobs, and taking on additional responsibilities throughout their teens. It's time to ditch your previous tactic of matching recruits with past experience to similar jobs further up the ladder, and start matching candidates to competencies required for the job.
4. Multi-Tasking Comes Naturally
Jobs are evolving; each person within a team is no longer expected to do one job. They’re expected to work across multiple projects using a wide range of skill-sets. Think about it: you’ve had to develop a personal brand, whilst maintaining company branding rules alongside using social media channels to gain traction on job ads. And you’re not a marketer; you’re a recruiter! This sort of multi-skilled work is only going to become more commonplace in multiple sectors so the ability for candidates to adapt is a key indicator of how future-proof they are.
5. An Entrepreneurial Mind-Set
It sounds strange to encourage clients to hire someone with an entrepreneurial mind-set – surely, they’ll leave and set up their own businesses? But that’s not usually the way things go. Entrepreneurial candidates still need to learn the ropes and the way they think can be a huge asset to businesses, especially start-ups. These candidates are innovative, passionate, and comfortable in a leadership position. They understand the big picture and where a client’s business fits in within the wider market. They appreciate the importance of raising capital and managing budgets and they’re constantly looking to improve. These are textbook over-achievers – hard to find, yet easy to place! And as long as they remain motivated, they’ll serve your client well, long into the future. They’re truly a worthwhile investment.
It’s tricky to find the stars of tomorrow, but by working within a well thought out recruitment process you’ll determine who these candidates are before your competition does. Think about using a database to monitor the career progression of candidates you’ve been in contact with, check in with them regularly and you will not only improve your chances of filling jobs with your clients, you’ll save time and money in the process. Search for candidates that can learn fast, adapt to changing market conditions and innovate - you won’t go far wrong.
Heidi is PhD student at the University of Aberdeen. Her research focuses on the issues surrounding the recruitment of patients into clinical trials.