Jun 18, 2021

The “old” industry standard of hiring by job title could cost you great talent. Can you do better?

Let’s say you need to hire a great Executive Assistant. You want someone with experience as you don’t have time to train, so you have stated in your job advert that they ‘must have 5+ years of experience in a similar role’.

Then, when the resumes come in, you have a system of quickly disregarding everyone who doesn’t have that job title in their history. Or, you’ve set up a deal breaker question on your application form that says: ‘Have you previously worked as an Executive Assistant?’ If they haven’t, you aren’t even opening their application.

Sound familiar?

In this post-COVID world, large swathes of the population have had their careers shaken up and industries have been disrupted. “Five years of acceleration happened in one year,” according to LinkedIn’s managing director and vice president for Asia-Pacific and China, Olivier Legrand. Not only have businesses adapted, so too have candidates; with LinkedIn reporting 43 million hours clocked up on LinkedIn Learning in 2020. Candidates are focused on upskilling and looking for new opportunities to grow, whilst leading employers are taking the time to analyse the actual skills and aptitude their business needs. 

So, what does that mean if you are hiring now?

“Just because someone doesn’t have ‘Executive Assistant’ on their resume shouldn’t mean they aren’t a great candidate for your EA role” says Joanna Baker, Senior Recruitment Partner with Talent Propeller.

Take a moment to think about what they will actually be doing and what skills you want them to have. Let’s say your job description includes organising meetings, travel for the management team, coordinating accommodation for conferences. The skills you need are Excel (assuming that’s how you manage your schedules), faultless written English and forensic attention to detail when it comes to data entry.

Who else could be excellent at that, and bring high-level stakeholder management skills?

How about a former travel agent?  

Savvy employers realise that last year’s job title is becoming less relevant. With so many people making career changes post-COVID, having a system in place as part of your recruitment process to test for skills and aptitude makes sense. Not only do you identify transferable skills, but you might just find a versatile candidate with ability to pivot and grow with you. 

Talent Propeller offers a range of pre-employment testing assessments. A former travel agent can prove they are an advanced Excel user, have exceptional spelling and grammar and a 99Kpa data entry score that rivals any of your other applicants.

Another key benefit of pre-employment testing is the ability to see where someone has scope to be developed and this is useful for long-term employee engagement. For example, if Sarah scored very high on people and resource management but low on business complexity, you can ask yourself: is aptitude in business complexity critical today, to the role I’m trying to fill? Or, is she ready to hit the ground running in other areas and able to grow with mentoring?    

So, if you still have that old fashioned obsession with job title, try a new way of thinking about transferable skills and see where it can take you. You might just be surprised.