Look for the Right Experience, Right Education, Right Skills

Employers are currently facing various hiring challenges. If you’re reading this, you may be hiring (or trying to) while reading and listening to the headlines, but there have always been hiring dilemmas in one form or another. Hiring is basically a supply and demand economic chain, but with humans involved, the process can be unpredictable. Throw in a few curve balls like Covid, health mandates, and social media – and boom, we are in very uncertain times.

So, how do you keep ahead of the curve and break a downward cycle without throwing money at it? Playing the “salary game” eventually becomes just that: throwing money at an issue that would be better off analyzed internally first, and then externally after its supposed resolution.

But how do you analyze where the hiring “gaps” are? Where are you feeling the pain first? Are you not getting enough candidate flow, the right candidate flow, or are the demands not aligned with the roles? Are you losing employees to perceived or valid poaching, or are people just resigning, consistent with the new media metrics?

Engenium is a niche staffing and HR consultancy serving the engineering and simulation industry. Our daily business is people. We have noticed one of the biggest gaps for many of our clients is time. Every part of the recruiting cycle is taking longer. Time to fill open positions seems to be taking forever.

Is it taking too long between posting a vacancy announcement and filling the role, normally called “time to fill” (TTF)? This affects productivity as your cost to hire mounts up, stress increases, and not only on the team that needs a new hire but on your internal hiring teams as well. Unless you have an incredibly predictable schedule (and the pandemic has blown this for many companies), the thought of hiring usually occurs after the pain is felt, and for many clients, that means it’s already too late. Add in a longer recruiting cycle, and soon you’re worried that you may not meet your clients’ demands. Eventually, you get desperate – this is usually when companies call us – and you realize you would have been much better off if you did it sooner!

But what are the truly significant factors that have led to TTF being so torturously long? What are the layers that have led to where we are now? How can your recruiting cycle be improved to eventually get you ahead of the curve?

Candidates want more money. Yes, this is very true. We’ll discuss in future articles how we can make this aspect fairer and more equitable, but money is not the only factor, and it’s the easiest to resolve. For now, let’s consider other issues.

The pandemic. Yes, this was a trigger that contributed to what we’ll be discussing.

What we are hearing from employers:
Candidates lack the
”right” experience.
Candidates lack the
”right” education.
Candidates lack the

Right Experience

Perhaps candidates really don’t have the right experience nowadays, but the term “experience” is too broad. What is it you’re looking for? Have you really considered what this term means to you, the role, and the results you expect from this position?

Too often, we hear, “Candidate does not come from ‘x’ experience,” meaning an industry or a company. Stop disqualifying your candidates because they don’t have the “right” industry or company experience. Instead, break down the “experience” required and remember that for many junior and mid-level roles, skills are still being learned, translated, and applied. Skills can be transferrable, even if they’re NOT industry-specific. Call Engenium to learn how to break down experience into understandable, relevant chunks.

Right Education

Issues with recruiting software engineers tend to rank high here. Ask yourself WHY we need formal education, and why many clients still prefer graduates from top-tier schools. A computer science degree IS necessary, but not for every role, company, or project. Many software engineers are self-taught and today’s tech world is changing fast, so why do you need such a heavy-hitting degree? Micro credentials are steadily opening more opportunities for continuous and intentional learners, while providing companies the security the candidates have currently, as well as their stackable skills.

Where have all the computer science and STEM majors gone? Listen up, smaller companies…

I won’t mention any names, but we all use the same browsers, document processing, hardware, and telecommunications now. We can all see there has been a huge migration of job shifts, and here is where the pandemic made its greatest impact: work from home. Many local graduates no longer need to move away to get those “big” company jobs. If you can’t at least offer a hybrid model, you will fall behind.

Right Skills

I once worked for a company that created the phrase, “hire for attitude and train for skills,” a motto that is still relevant for many HR folks today. Still, many clients fall victim to the “skills” interview. Attitude hiring is about finding people with the right mindset, but I agree that a good attitude is not going to get the job done if skills are completely lacking.

One work-around is to provide compromise. Instead of simply focusing on what a job needs to accomplish right now, think ahead, and ask yourself, “What will this job need to do in two years?” Also, will this candidate have the potential to get there? In other words, if a candidate has x and y, but lacks z (and z isn’t a top priority), but the candidate shows the potential to learn z and z++, your answer is to hire them for attitude. Engenium can provide many interviewing techniques to assist your hiring teams recruit outside the “skills” set.

Here are some quick stats on how tight the market is and will remain for the foreseeable future. The U.S. Bureau of Labor expects software engineering roles to grow 22% through 2029. As of this writing, software engineers have outpaced the retail market in turnover by more than 13.2%. We have more jobs than engineers, and the engineers are leaving the marketplace! This places an even greater burden on your existing teams.

Clients may want the “right” experience, the “right” degree, and the “right” skills, but it’s best to escape the “pedigree” paradigm. If you can break this cycle, you’ll open your recruiting funnels. The more candidates you have to interview, the more you can possibly hire. More importantly, you will open your diversity pool with more identifiable skills and reconsidering these three principles will speed up your time to fill.


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