The Perfect Candidate Exists; and Other Fantasies

The goal of any hiring manager, recruiter or employer is to find the best person out there for the job. However, that person rarely is found or, if located, is not interested in a new opportunity. As much as we want to hire the greatest candidate, most of the time we have to open the door a little wider to meet realistic expectations.

When companies decide that they need to hire new people, there is a general consensus as to the basic requirements. We get the basics out of the way: pulse, IQ above 70 and a desire to work. All kidding aside, there is a certain amount of qualifications that are dealbreakers if not met (e.g. minimum industry experience, residency, drug-free, etc.). Once those are met, we come to the part reality/part fiction portion of the screening process that is seen so often.

Who meets 100% of any job description? Once contacted, they are probably overqualified, and wouldn’t take the position anyway. Unfortunately, some companies let good candidates slip by due to either a misunderstanding of one’s credentials or the applicant has something missing; which could be overcome and explained if given the opportunity.

“Must-haves” typically contain great screening mandates. But rarely are they the ‘catch-all’ like we all want to see. Years of experience are a given. A company won’t hire someone with five years’ experience if they’re looking for 15. But they may hire the 15 year tenured candidate if all they need is five. What happens when the education requirement has a minimum of a BA Degree? Many people in our industry don’t meet that directive. Is that a dealbreaker? Fortunately, many companies will forego the mandate in lieu of a stellar (and successful) background in our industry. But, for those companies that open the door a little wider to consider all potential candidates, there are those that have the stiff prerequisites. Here are two examples of similar companies and their hiring practices:

Company A decides that in order to keep the ‘standards high’; they will only consider those with a college education and 10 years’ experience.

Company B understands the value of education and experience, but they are more interested in a total fit. They choose to open up the candidate pool to those with and without a degree but having at least four years’ experience.

In poring over résumés, ‘A’ decides to pass on anyone without the college degree. They whittle the field to a handful of viable prospective employees.

Company B also trims the pool down, but is cognizant of the entire package of experience, education and career progression. They now have a larger pool from which to choose.

The vetting process for each company has value; and everyone can argue over which is the best, or even which is the fairest. Those that have had the ability to complete college should be applauded; just as those who went into the work force or military and didn’t complete their college degrees should also be given their just due.

No matter what requirements a firm has, there should be a balance of education, experience and personalities for every role. Companies that limit themselves have invariably lost out on outstanding talent; and they’ll never know it. Those businesses that have the luxury of having a collectively open mind can try to determine what someone can actually do for the company and its short-term and long-term goals. If companies can stop searching for the fictional ‘perfect’ candidate, more people may have the opportunity to show what they can really do.

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