When searching for a new job, one of the first things a candidate looks at is the job requirements. After all, if they do not fulfill the items on the job qualifications list, what is the point of applying? Candidates cite the feeling of being underqualified as the top reason they do not apply for jobs they are interested in pursuing.
Job requirements are no doubt an important part of job listings as they help narrow down your pool of candidates and prevent people who are vastly unqualified from applying. However, there is some disparity in the way employers and candidates view these requirements that can cause problems on both sides.
Employers typically approach job requirements as a “wish list” of sorts, so they include any and all qualifications that would be ideal in the perfect candidate. Applicants, on the other hand, tend to view the job qualifications list as a be-all, end-all assessment of their fitness for the job. Unfortunately, this can prevent some great candidates from applying, especially if they are reading the job listing very diligently (on the flip side, you may still get just as many less diligent candidates because they are not reading the requirements closely). It is a lose-lose situation.
For this reason, we are making the case for rethinking a few common requirements we often see in job listings. In 2020, we are dealing with a very different economic landscape than we were even just a year ago. It would serve both employers and candidates to reconsider these limiting job qualifications.
Why Should You Rethink Your Job Qualifications?
It can be tempting to copy and paste canned job listings, especially if there are certain positions you hire for on a rolling basis. Doing this, however, can hurt your chances of finding a great candidate. You should update your job listings regularly for a number of reasons.
First, editing and updating your job listing every time you post it keeps things from feeling stale. Candidates might have seen a similar role you posted previously, for example, and if it is exactly the same listing, they might assume you are having trouble hiring.
Refreshing your job listing keeps you from unintentionally limiting your candidate pool. If you continue to advertise a niche position with the requirement for, say, five years of experience, you risk alienating a whole group of otherwise qualified individuals who have only four years under their belt.
Changing up your job requirements encourages diversity, especially among female candidates. One commonly cited statistic is that women only apply for jobs when they meet 100% of the qualifications, whereas the threshold among male candidates is closer to about 60%. Subsequent studies show that women are less likely to put themselves in the running for positions where they feel as if not meeting the requirements. You can remove this barrier to entry by reconsidering the laundry list of stipulations you include with your job postings.
Finally, revising your job requirements is useful for A/B testing purposes. As with every step of your hiring funnel, it is a good idea to be consistently optimizing and revising your job listings for maximum effectiveness. Testing out different styles of language and tone along with the list of skills and qualifications you use can help you refine your listing until you’re confident you are attracting the strongest possible candidate pool.
Job Requirements to Rethink in 2020
With the exception of those still in school and in some cases, new graduates, we generally advise candidates to leave their GPA off their resume. Yet, some employers still list a GPA above a certain number as a job requirement, most commonly for entry-level positions.
Presumably, when you post a job listing, you are looking for the person who is the most capable to do the job. In the real world, this is often quite different from the person who’s best at academics. While logic tells us that people with a high GPA obtained it through some combination of intelligence and skill, using this number as a job qualification is problematic for many reasons.
For starters, it is impossible to standardize it among educational institutions. A 3.0 at a community college, for example, might not equate to the same level of academic rigor as a similar score at an Ivy League university.
Then there is the fact that some people just are not book learners. Some people do poorly in formal testing situations, despite having a proven familiarity with the material in other settings.
Laszlo Bock, who was then Google’s senior vice president of people operations, summed it up in an interview with the New York Times: “Another reason [we do not look at GPA or test scores when hiring] is that I think academic environments are artificial environments. People who succeed there are sort of finely trained, they are conditioned to succeed in that environment.”
Instead, Bock suggested focusing on candidates’ ability to solve problems when there is not an obvious answer, which is a much more useful skill in the real world than being a good test-taker.
2. Specific College Degree
For employers, a specific college degree (business, chemistry, hospitality, etc) has become a shortcut of sorts for identifying candidates with a well-rounded skill set. The problem with this is that it eliminates an entire segment of the population that might otherwise be perfectly competent for the requirements of a role.
Some jobs, by necessity, require the specialized technical skills that come with a specific college degree. For others, however, consider using skills-based assessments and other tools to qualify candidates rather than relying on a certain college degree as a blanket requirement.
3. Years of Experience
Asking for a certain number of years of experience is a near-universal convention in every job qualifications list. It is so widespread that it is becoming an often-satirized catch-22, particularly among young candidates—i.e. a job billed as “entry-level” that lists 3 to 5 years experience as a requirement.
While employers typically use this information as a ballpark to help them gauge candidates’ preparedness for a role, applicants often view it as a rigid must-have in order to be considered (and, to be sure, some hiring managers approach it this way, too). The main problem with the years-of-experience requirement is how dramatically it can limit your talent pool while having little corresponding impact on a candidate’s overall competence.
Consider, for example, the relative difference between a candidate with eight years’ experience and one with ten. What quantitative difference do those two additional years actually make? If their job titles and career progression are otherwise comparable, the answer usually is, not much. The candidates are likely going to have a similar on-the-job background, skill sets, and leadership experience. The candidate with eight years on the job may actually be stronger in other ways, like culture fit.
Also, consider the changing norms of professional life in general. Millennials, who are now the largest segment of the U.S. labor force, are more likely to switch jobs than any other generation, while mid-life career changes have become more common among all Americans. With modern candidates spending less time in any given role than they did a decade or two ago, the number of applicants with a high number of years in their position dwindles—as we said above, reducing the size of your talent pool.
While this is not a case for throwing out the years-of-experience requirement entirely, consider including language that makes it clear the range is a guideline rather than a hard-and-fast rule. Be sure to set the parameters on any resume screening systems you use accordingly so qualified candidates do not get filtered out for having too few years on the job.
Build A Stronger Talent Pool With Help From 4 Corner Resources
The perfect candidate for any role is not defined by just one job requirement; rather, they bring a mix of skills, experience, and personality that make them the right fit for your job. 4 Corner Resources can help you identify a pool of talent with the technical skills that meet your needs and the personality to succeed within your company’s culture. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation with our team of staffing experts.