One Size Does Not Fit All

Why Job Descriptions and Curriculum Vitae are Poor Tools for Candidate Selection.

We all know that it is difficult to find perfect fit candidates.  Candidates that have all the skills and experience plus all the other intangible characteristics that we are looking for. While criteria like work experience, specific qualifications, education, etc., are easy to identify and assess, the softer, intangible criteria, are harder to define and quantify.  These intangible qualities rarely find their way into a typical Job Description in a useful manner beyond the “Works well under pressure, works well in a team environment, enthusiastic, etc., etc.”  My test for whether or not an item is useful as evaluation criteria is to ask if the opposite is an acceptable option.  For example, “Works well under pressure” cannot really be a useful criterion because nobody would hire someone who “Does not work well under pressure.” 

Similarly, intangible criteria are rarely listed on a candidate’s CV in a useful way and generally appear in a couple of typical lines stating that the candidate is a “Self-starter, highly motivated, energetic, gets along with people, etc., etc.”  Again, I use the same question to assess the usefulness of these criteria asking if the opposite attribute would be desirable to an employer.  For example, are there any employers that would hire someone who “Needs constant reminders to get things done, or who are unmotivated, and lazy?” Obviously not. 

How to select the right candidate.

Good job descriptions are useful at defining the tangible characteristics needed for a role and CVs provide a decent overview of the skills and experience a candidate brings to the table.  So, why do all these rather unhelpful criteria and statements continue to show up on resumes and job descriptions? We think it is simply because employers and candidates both realize that intangible criteria play an incredibly important role in the ultimate success of a candidate but we just don’t have great ways to quantify and measure them. 

From our experience, hiring managers tend to be overly reliant on gut-feelings to evaluate candidates on intangibles characteristics.  This is still the case despite the existence of tools such as psychometric testing, benchmarking, and a broad understanding from their human resources team about the traits that are most important for fitting within the organization.  Despite the support of their HR teams, hiring managers may be unfamiliar with what is available to them and/or how best to utilize the tools they do have.  To address this, we have developed a proprietary selection methodology that looks at both the tangible and intangible characteristics that are necessary a particular position and organization, looking at both the aptitude and attitude of a candidate, and ensures a match that can be articulated in a common-sense way that is easy for hiring managers to understand.  Our selection methodology also easily incorporates more sophisticated tools when desired making us able to tailor our approach to deliver the depth of analysis and results that our clients demand. 

Article written by Carl Denny, CFR Global Executive Search USA

Photo source: Pexels

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