I get really frustrated when I receive yet another job spec that requires an individual who has basically done exactly this job somewhere else before – surely that’s limiting the options for the organisation who may well be missing out on an even better candidate who has all the necessary skills and know-how but who may have achieved them in a different environment?

I know that I can’t be the only one who is experiencing this because according to LinkedIn’s Talent Trends 2016, 66% of all South Africans who changed jobs in the previous year made lateral moves. Shifting from one organisation to another, to do the same thing. Besides being inevitably boring for the individuals concerned, it shouldn’t be any surprise then that the primary motivator for moving for these candidates is money.

My experience is that many of the best people I meet are looking for new challenges. The opportunity to use what they’ve learned and experienced in a new environment. Their enthusiasm and desire for success will undoubtedly translate into success in these new roles, if only organisations would look past the fact that they don’t have a cookie cutter CV.

Change is happening…slowly

I am increasingly receiving job orders from clients who’re incorporating seemingly ‘odd’ skill sets into singular roles. Just the other day I got a request for a CA, traditionally a “numbers guy”, who has exceptional writing ability and the wherewithal to write educational and informational articles on financial inclusion. And let’s not forget that engineers, of all types, are the most sought after individuals in the banking environment today.

Whilst organisations are recognising the need to find cross-functional skills and interests within one individual, their recruitment processes haven’t necessarily caught up. Too often, the age-old essential requirements get in the way of meeting the perfect candidate – just because they don’t have previous industry experience or haven’t done exactly that work before.

Candidate-led transitions

Increasingly, individuals are shifting their focus mid-career, acquiring qualifications outside of the traditional scope of their original profession. Think about a mining engineer who completes a CFA and then looks for an opportunity as analyst within an investment bank. Or a medical doctor who acquires his MBA and ends up working as a strategy consultant.

These highly qualified, well experienced and driven individuals know what they want in their next career move and would easily convince a panel of their suitability if given the chance to be interviewed and assessed, if only they could make it past the CV keyword matching process.

With 80% of Generation X, the bulk of skilled and experienced professionals in our workforce today, no longer working in the field for which they’re qualified, it’s inevitable that we need to shift our thinking about matching individuals to opportunities

Skills shortages require lateral thinking

In a skills-short market, particularly when recruiting for newly created roles, a commitment to lateral thinking is essential for recruiters and talent acquisition professionals alike. Newly created jobs, like data scientists for example, will require us to consider candidates who’ve not followed a traditional pathway, after all, this job didn’t even exist a few years ago!

For me, the key is understanding what the individual needs to do, what skills they should have, and the characteristics that will make them successful. These, and not necessarily a checklist of specific past experience, are critical to determining who would be a suitable candidate. Once identified, the recruitment process should incorporate elements including in-depth interviews, skills assessments and even work simulations, to accurately determine whether the individual would be a good fit.

Match Trifecta

When sourcing talent in a skills short environment, or for cross-functional or newly developed roles, I advocate the use of what I call the Match Trifecta. This seeks to determine the fit of the candidate across three distinct, but equally important, areas:

Lost in Translation

In my opinion the weight allocated to these matches also matters. For me, skills match should be half (50%) of the consideration, bearing in mind that some skills can be developed or even learnt in a short space of time. Fit relative to their knowledge and experience within the specific sector should account for 20%. Again, much of the terminology and know-how could be acquired and there are definitely industry similarities and cross-overs that could be taken into account. The remaining 30% should, in my opinion, come down to fit with the organisation and its culture. Experience shows that even the most qualified and experienced individuals will struggle to perform in placed into environments that do not match with their own values and expectations.

Translation Services on Offer

As someone who prides himself on understanding the markets I work in, I believe that I am perfectly positioned to act as the “translator” on behalf of organisations that wish to gain benefit in considering individuals who may otherwise have been overlooked. Talk to me today on how we can improve your talent attraction, recruitment and retention.