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“Credential Creep” Can Restrict Your Talent Pool

In a recent trend that’s been called “credential creep,” some employers have begun raising their minimum job requirements to higher levels than in the past. They’re requiring undergraduate degrees for positions formerly held by high school graduates and demanding experience for positions that once welcomed entry-level employees. Or they’re insisting that candidates have years of work history doing the same job in the same field to be considered.

Given today’s tight talent pool, it’s a good idea to take a fresh look at where you draw the line between your “must-haves” and your “nice-to-haves” when you’re screening applicants for a new job. The distinction could be costing you valuable candidates.

Drawing out the hiring process
Employers who value timeliness in their recruitment process should take a look at the real-world picture of what credentials are absolutely necessary. Jobs that require a bachelor's degree, on average, take longer to fill than if the same position does not require a bachelor's degree.

Cast a wider net
Considering strategic exceptions to a rigid list of top-shelf qualifications could help you cast a wider net and fill critical positions without sacrificing quality. Someone who has worked their way up the ladder for 15 years from skilled trades to management, for instance, is going to have very specific and relevant hands-on knowledge, regardless of their degree. This is the kind of worker that employers are looking for, but company protocols or requirements can be a barrier.

Inflexible hiring parameters don’t work well in real life, and it’s limiting the candidate pool even further in industries that already are struggling to fill critical jobs.

This is a crucial point given low unemployment rates. In a candidate-driven market, the most qualified job seekers know their work and demand a premium for their services. And they don’t see a need to wait around. Because of this, employers need to move quickly or risk missing out on quality candidates.

Are your requirements still relevant?
Best practices suggest that employers should be more open to outside-the-box thinking:
  • Re-examine your list of “necessary” requirements, especially if the requirements aren’t updated frequently. Are they all still relevant?
  • Look for candidates with transferable skills, even if candidates come from another industry or former job titles aren’t an exact match.
  • Hire candidates who are a great culture fit, but who may lack one or two skills that can easily be learned on the job.
The insistence on a rigid list of qualifications could be a standard guideline across a large organisation that doesn’t reflect market realities in all locations or industries. Hiring managers should ask themselves, ‘is speed important in this hire?’ If so, given the market conditions, what are the alternatives we can consider to increase the number of viable candidates? (i.e. transferable skills, additional industries, revisiting the ‘must have’ hiring criteria). Working with a trusted recruitment partner can help you sort through your hiring criteria with an eye toward streamlining your process while retaining the highest quality of candidates.

Want to know more about recruiting strategies when speed-to-hire is a goal? Contact Aerotek now.