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Do You Hire for Education, Experience or Ability?

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If your firm is hiring, know that setting a high bar makes it difficult for entry-level employees—even those with education and certifications—to get a foot in the door.

Aug 15th 2022
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Accounting firms face unprecedented hiring challenges, and while some roles demand a high level of expertise or a CPA license, not all do.

So, why do many job descriptions still ask for a bachelor’s degree and 5+ years of experience?

Why Hiring Managers Look for Experience and Education

Recruiting is tough. Hiring managers might receive hundreds of applications for an open position, so to make weeding through those applications a little more manageable, they might eliminate candidates that don’t have a minimum level of education and experience.

According to a report from the Georgetown Public Policy Institute, 65% of job postings list postsecondary education or training as a condition of employment, even though only 31% of American jobs need postsecondary education to do their jobs.

Rather than setting arbitrary minimum qualifications for certain roles—and disqualifying thousands of capable candidates—consider hiring based on skills and aptitude.  Here are tips for making the change:

Revamp Your Job Listings

Rather than focusing on education and experience in your job listings, concentrate on the tasks the right candidate will need to perform and the skills they’ll need to do their job effectively.

While it’s tempting to create an extensive list of skills and duties, pare this section of your job ad down to include only what’s really necessary. You don’t want to scare candidates away with trivial prerequisites.

Studies have shown that women and people of color are less likely to apply for a job if they don’t meet 100 percent of the qualifications, so keep it simple.

You might also consider including inclusive wording in your job ad. For example, open positions at the technology company Tegus include the following:

Don’t meet every single requirement? Studies have shown that women and people of color are less likely to apply to jobs unless they meet every single qualification.

At Tegus we are dedicated to building a diverse, inclusive and authentic workplace, so if you’re excited about this role but your past experience doesn’t align perfectly with every qualification in the job description, we encourage you to apply anyways.

You may be just the right candidate for this or other roles.”

Look Beyond Job Titles

Job titles can mean different things in different industries and even across employers within the same industry. So rather than looking at someone’s current or recent job titles to see whether they’re the right fit, look for candidates with skills related to the skills you need.

Focusing on the skills needed for a position rather than job titles helps people move up their career ladder. It also helps the firm by expanding the candidate pool and helping identify candidates that already have the necessary skills or would benefit from training to get them up to speed quickly.

Leverage Strength Assessments

We use the Kolbe A™ Index to identify core strengths of job candidates and ensure people are a good fit for the role and the team. These assessments can shine a light on some fantastic candidates that might otherwise be overlooked based on a resume alone.

Of course, to understand whether someone is a good fit for a job based on their personality and strengths, you need to understand what the job requires. So, be sure you thoroughly assess the competencies necessary for effective job performance.

Ultimately, hiring for skills and aptitude will allow you to enlarge your talent pool and cultivate a more diverse workforce. It might take more time to craft job listings, sort through resumes, and assess applicants. But the rewards will far outweigh the time invested when you start focusing on people’s future rather than their past.

The original article appeared on the Boomer Consulting website.

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