While U.S. unemployment rates hang above 8 percent, employers nationwide are complaining they can't find qualified employees to fill open positions. If there are open jobs, and people searching, why is our unemployment rate stuck?
I recently saw a report theorizing that the problem doesn't lie with the job candidates, but with the way big employers are looking to fill open positions. Corporations don't want to spend time or money on training employees; they want workers who can hit the ground running. So they look for job candidates who already have the exact skills and experience needed for a particular (and sometimes very esoteric) job. In addition, most big companies use software to weed through resumes, quickly eliminating candidates who don't use the magical combination of keywords to fill the position.
Seeking employees to fit the job-not tailoring jobs to fit employees-is the wrong approach for building a strong, flexible team. As someone who's managed employees for more than 30 years, I've always found it's far more effective to tailor a job to an employee's skills, interests and aptitudes.
Big companies may not have the time or manpower for this approach, but small companies should, because creating jobs to fit your employees can give you an incredible edge. Here are my suggestions for how to make it work.
Hire for attitude, not just aptitude
Say you're considering two candidates for a sales associate job. One has lots of sales experience and knows your POS system, but she's remote and a little stand-offish. The other candidate has less sales experience, but she's warm and enthusiastic, as well as eager to learn. Which would you rather hire? It's easier to teach a friendly person the job than to teach an unfriendly person how to get along with others. Consider what attitude your employee will need to work effectively with teammates and customers, and factor that into your hiring decision.
It takes a while for new workers to learn the ropes. People aren't robots, and as much as you might like to, you can't flick a switch and have a new hire immediately fit into your company. Give new employees the training they need; then give them time to grow into their roles. Regular, detailed feedback-both positive and negative-helps to speed up the learning curve.