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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 college 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 hires should take a look at the real-world picture of what credentials are absolutely necessary. For example, half of job postings for insurance claims clerks call for a bachelor’s degree, but only a quarter of workers currently employed in the field have that degree, according to the survey.

The change is also problematic for employers, because 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. Construction supervisor positions that require a bachelor's degree, for example, take 61 days to fill on average, compared with 28 days for postings that do not require a college 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 of hire, according to Adam Hendricks, practice lead for Aerotek. “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,” Hendricks notes. “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, he adds. 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 today’s record-low unemployment rates. “It’s a candidate-driven market right now — the most qualified job seekers know their worth and are demanding a premium for their services. And they don’t see a need to wait around.” Because of this, Hendricks says, “Employers need to move quickly or risk missing out on quality people.”

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 organization that doesn’t reflect market realities in all locations or industries. But as Hendricks says, “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 hire.

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