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How to Handle a Candidate Shortage: Prioritize Skills Over Resumes

Is the Q2 2021 hiring market what you expected it would be back in January? Millions of open jobs, applicant flow that’s slowed to a trickle, desperate hiring managers begging you, “Just find me someone!” 2021 was supposed to be the Year of Hiring for Diversity for many organizations. Instead, it’s turned into a struggle to fill open roles. So, here’s a smart solution that may surprise you.

Pre-employment assessments: Don’t stop believin’

When there’s a candidate shortage, it’s tempting to drop pre-hire assessments from hiring workflows, either to shorten time-to-hire or because it narrows an already too-small candidate pool. However, this short-term strategy can have long-term negative results for your workforce, including reduced quality of hire and increased turnover. A better approach is to continue using pre-hire assessments but with adjustments to your cut scores and use them early in your hiring process.  

First, the reason for using pre-hire assessments early in the process: Pre-hire assessments allow you to prioritize candidates’ skills over resume data such as education or prior experience. This strategy opens up your candidate pool and enables you to identify the candidates who will succeed on the job accurately. A validated pre-hire assessment like Modern Hire’s Virtual Job Tryout™ is predictive of future job performance. It is based on core competencies, that mix of skills, knowledge, and personality traits that make a candidate well-suited for a specific job. With a Virtual Job Tryout, recruiters get data indicating the candidates who are qualified and likely to succeed in the job, even if the candidate has never been in that role before. 

In contrast, recruiting teams using education or prior experience in candidate selection decisions will likely screen out the very talent they need. Human bias may cause some candidates to be passed over during a resume screening even if they are the right candidate for the job. Bias is also a barrier to hiring for diversity – more on that in a moment. Using predictive pre-employment assessments is also an advantage when hiring for emerging roles new to an industry, such as solar assessors and human bias auditors. 

Next, adjusting pre-hire assessment cut scores. If you’ve yet to use pre-employment assessments, a cut score is the level recruiters use to determine which candidates should move forward in the hiring process. Candidates scoring at or above the cut score pass; those scoring below do not. Recruiting teams can lower or temporarily remove cut scores on assessments to increase pass rates. Some organizations routinely use this strategy to control turnover while still filling open positions. (For more on this, read our Business Impact Report: Turnover.

Why continue using pre-hire assessments if you don’t have a cut score? There are a few reasons:

  • The candidate data still has value. At some point, you’ll probably reinstitute cut scores, and being able to compare post-hire performance with pre-hire assessment data can help inform your cut decision. In addition, you may need some of these candidates in the future even if you don’t extend a job offer now, and you’ll want consistent data for all candidates.
  • There’s value to candidates in completing a Virtual Job Tryout. They get to know your organization and the role while completing job simulation exercises and getting a realistic job preview. In addition, the connection they form to your company during the assessment may be the deciding factor in their acceptance of your offer, immediately or in the future.

Bias, pre-employment assessments and diversity

As noted above, bias is a barrier to diversity in hiring. Bias is defined as a tendency, inclination, or prejudice toward or against something or someone. We all have biases, both conscious and unconscious, and they influence candidate selection and hiring decisions. Organizations aiming for diversity in hiring this year, be it diversity in race, gender, age, perspective, or more, can progress toward that goal by reducing bias in their hiring process. Pre-employment assessments reduce bias by focusing only on candidates’ core competencies for the job. Information like age, gender, or race isn’t part of the equation. Using pre-employment assessments early in the hiring process, recruiters can focus on quality candidates identified without bias and offer candidates a fairer hiring experience. To learn more about the opportunity pre-employment assessments create in hiring for diversity, read our white paper, How Data-Driven Selection Is Key to Hiring a More Diverse Workforce.

 To sum it up, a candidate shortage is precisely when recruiters need the strategic value of pre-employment assessments to bolster hiring performance and diversity in hiring. If you’d like to experience a Modern Hire Virtual Job Tryout, request your personal demo today