Candidate Quality: What to Do When 53% Lack the Necessary Skills

Candidate Quality: What to Do When 53% Lack the Necessary Skills

Mike Roberts

candidate quality in recruitingIt’s not uncommon for a recruiter to say, “I don’t need more candidates, I need better ones.” Because, after all, you could post a requisition for a senior software engineer in Manhattan and easily get a few hundred resumes. But that doesn’t necessarily mean 90% of them won’t be under-qualified recent grads with a bachelor’s degree in computer science.

At a time where both the number of job openings and national average time-to-fill are at a 15-year high, this highlights the candidate quality issue many companies are having. Although candidate quality is certainly not the only thing impacting talent acquisition teams’ ability to fill positions, it’s definitely a major contributor—one that they can work to improve.

How Big Is the Candidate Quality Problem?

Every company has a different experience with candidate quality. And in reality, even different positions posted by the same company will vary in their average candidate quality. But because there are so many variables that influence this performance indicator, some companies will definitely feel the impact of low quality candidates more than others.

CareerBuilder recently released some data from its new Candidate Behavior research study. It looked into many areas, but one stood out in particular: the aspects most likely to knock candidates out of the hiring process. Coming in far above options such as candidates being a bad culture fit and candidate did not interview well was that candidates lacked the necessary skills. 53% of recruiters chose this answer.

This relates directly to candidate quality. If low quality candidates apply up front, then recruiters lives are a lot harder. In the following sections, we’ll look into five different variables in the candidate quality equation and what recruiters can do to improve them.

Increase Communication Between Hiring Managers and Recruiters

Candidate quality is closely tied to a candidate’s prior experience with or potential to learn how to execute his or her job requirements, so when those requirements aren’t clearly stated, this can cause a problem. But too often, people are hired without ever explicitly stating what will be expected of them. This happens most often because of a disconnect between recruiting and hiring managers.

For many companies, it may be time to review how hiring managers and recruiters work together to build requisitions and determine the types of characteristics ideal candidates would have. This is particularly important where the cost of a poor candidate is high. To truly improve candidate quality, companies should have a well thought out process that can be measured and optimized over time.

Connect Job Requirements to Measurable Performance Variables

It’s not just important to have clearly stated and internally agreed upon job requirements, companies should also tie those requirements back to measurable performance variables. In a truly data-driven environment, the connection between requirements and a candidate’s ability to execute on those requirements post-hire can be reviewed and used to refine the types of candidates targeted going forward.

Actually doing this is often a challenge for companies, because it requires long-term communication and collaboration between recruiters, other HR functions, and hiring managers. We recently wrote about the concept of continuous improvement in recruiting, this is a good example of where the plan-do-check-act methodology can be applied. You may start off small in this area, and build on your process with each iteration.

Take Steps To Improve Your Online Presence and Employer Brand

The “Yelpification” of the world has extended into the employer brand realm, where job seekers can now easily look on sites like Glassdoor to find good places to work. It almost goes without saying that if you’re scoring 1 out of 5 stars on Glassdoor, then you’re more than likely going to feel that impact in your candidate quality. To put it bluntly, good people don’t want to work for poorly rated companies.

Employer brand is a complex area to improve, and there aren’t any silver bullets. It goes beyond employee satisfaction and happiness, also impacted by your customers’ satisfaction, your social media presence, how socially responsible you are, and a number of other factors. Again, collective improvements started now can raise your candidate quality in the future.

Focus On Building Up Your Passive Candidate Pipeline

More mature recruiting organizations operate in a less reactive state—meaning, they’re not always getting a request to fill a requisition and then starting from scratch trying to fill it. The most proactive recruiters have a strong understanding of current and future departmental hiring needs, and are always working to build out their talent pipeline—especially passive, sought after talent.

Imagine having to fill a senior software engineer position and then simply opening up a talent network application, selecting job seekers that joined the network previously who meet your skill and experience requirements, and then emailing them all at once. In this scenario, you’re able to qualify and connect with candidates that asked to be contacted by you.

Break Free from the Status Quo With Your Career Site

We talk about this a lot, but we’ll say it again (and probably again). Out-of-the-box Applicant Tracking System (ATS) apply flows are killing application completion rates. And delivering the same candidate experience online is doing more harm than good when it comes to hiring good quality—often passive—candidates. In today’s digitally-driven world, having a lackluster, drawn out, prone to crashing, not mobile optimized apply experience has to change.

Improving your candidate experience is definitely not a cure-all, and it will actually probably increase your overall candidate quantity, but it’s the perfect trap for catching that elusive, highly talented candidate that might just be stopping by your career site for a few minutes. You might never see him or her again, and your recruiting strategy has to account for that.

To learn more about recruiting metrics, and the role of analytics in helping talent acquisition leaders make better decisions, read our whitepaper, Analytics in Talent Acquisition: The Hype, the Reality, and the Future.

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