Finding & landing really great talent is hard enough. One way to make it considerably more difficult is to supplement truly important requirements with ones that really don’t matter. Following are four of my favorites — sacred cows embraced by many employers. Granted, some may be more applicable for certain jobs, but as universal pass/fail criteria, they are doing you no favors.
1.) Must have industry experience.
First of all, your industry probably isn’t as unique as you think it is. Second, to the extent that it is, you already have PLENTY of industry experience on board. Chances are very good that what you lack is fresh, “outside of the box” perspective.
2.) College Degree required.
Some jobs require specific degrees, but no job requires “a college degree.” Most often, this is what I like to call a proxy requirement. It’s being used in lieu of something else, generally something a lot more valid. Most likely, intelligence. Well, we all know some very bright people who never went to college. And some ‘stoopid’ people who have four year degrees (or more). Whatever it is you are really trying to capture here — street smarts, specific cognitive abilities, persistence — there are better tools & techniques to get at what you really want to measure.
3.) High college GPA.
I won’t even argue this one. I’ll just cite Google’s recent exhaustive analysis, where they determined (based on years of job performance data for many thousands of hires) that GPA had almost no impact on job performance, and to the extent there was any impact, it was only for recent grads and it faded after 6-12 months.
4.) No job hoppers.
A number of employers have analyzed this and determined that a candidate’s prior employment history has little or no predictive value for retention. (One study determined that length of their commute was far more predictive.) Besides, there’s the whole “free agent nation” thing happening, not to mention the Millennials’ already legendary short tenure at jobs. And let’s keep this in perspective: the “break even point” for cost/productivity for most jobs is considered to be 6-9 months. I know most employers aren’t willing to go cold turkey on this one, so here’s my thought. I like to see that a candidate has at least one job that they stayed with for a while (how long depends on what type of job & where they are in their career). If they have one, I know they are capable of holding a job. The onus is then on me, the employer, to otherwise ensure a certain good fit (technical and culture), and subsequently to retain them.