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Are you overlooking great candidates?

Great candidates?When your inbox is overflowing with applicants it can be tempting to look for easy ways to filter them out. The long-term unemployed, over-qualified, ex-military and those who don’t have experience in your business sector or need flexible working are all likely to go in the ‘Rejected’ folder.

But don’t look for a quick fix just because it’s easy. ‘Turn over a stone and you might find a treasure,’ says Dianah Worman, Public Policy Adviser, Diversity at Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, CIPD.

‘You may be screening people due to personal bias, past experiences, or because your organisation has never recruited someone with a particular characteristic before and to do so would mean taking a risk. But do what you’ve always done and you could be missing out.’

Here’s why you should give these five types of candidates a second look…

1. They don’t have experience in your business sector

You could wait months for the “perfect” employee to apply for the role – or you could hire someone with great potential and train them up now. With global skills shortages facing many industries, more companies are training up existing employees and new hires.

‘A lot of organisations are now recruiting for attitude rather than technical skills,’ says Dianah. ‘Depending on the company’s resources, you can train an individual in a particular skill if they have the right experience and attitude. In contrast, softer skills are much harder to come by and are developed through experience, so can’t be taught easily.’

Companies who fear investment in training will lead to staff demanding higher pay or disappearing to competitors can rest easy. Sixty per cent of employees said they would be less likely to leave a company if they were offered training, while just over half said training would make them work harder, according to a survey by the People 1st Training Company.

2. They are overqualified for the role

Nearly a third of British employees today are over-qualified for their jobs according to a recent CIPD report. The next time you disregard someone “over qualified”, ask yourself why. Are you assuming that they will be bored or will leave when something better comes along?

‘They might want a job that’s less challenging for all sorts of reasons,’ warns Dianah. ‘Sometimes, as people get older or have children or other dependents to care for, they make a decision to downshift jobs. Rather than think “why would they want they job” ask “why would they apply for the job if they didn’t want it?”

‘Invite them to interview and you can discover the reasons behind their decision. Dismiss them out-of-hand and you could be missing out on a fantastic hire.’

3. They’ve been unemployed for over a year

The UK unemployment rate is going down but the number of those unemployed for a year or more continues to rise. While long-term unemployment amongst younger workers has reached its highest level in more than 20 years, the group most affected are older men.

Nearly half of unemployed people aged over 50 have been unemployed for 12 months or more compared with a third of Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants aged 18 or over. For many it’s a Catch 22 situation. Employers are less likely to take a chance on them, and the longer they’re unemployed, the less likely it is they will be called to interview.

‘There may be concern as to why an individual hasn’t been working and whether they can hit the ground running,’ says Dianah. ‘But workers don’t lose their skills and experience because they have been out of the workplace for a year. Older workers in particular come with valuable experience that can’t always be bought or taught and they can mentor younger employees to help build and retain organisational knowledge. ’

4. They want flexible working

Once considered a perk for working mums, flexible working is fast becoming an attractive way of working for many British workers – so should hiring managers really be surprised when a candidate requests the option to work non-standard hours?

From April 2014, the right to request flexible working will be extended to all employees who have been with their employer for 26 weeks or more – previously, parents of children aged 16 or under, or of disabled children under the age of 18, and some people who care for an adult, had the right to ask their employer for flexible working.

If you’re rejecting candidates who require flexible working, perhaps it’s time to re-think why and focus on designing workplace solutions that would meet business needs.

According to a survey by CIPD, sixty per cent of employees with no managerial responsibility would like to take-up flexible working – yet managers are much more likely to work from home or benefit from mobile working than other members of staff.

‘While this might be because of differences in the nature of the work done by managers and their employees in some organisations, it can also be related to working cultures and engrained attitudes which act as barriers to change  – and this is something to be looked at,’ says Dianah.

5. They’re ex military

The Ministry of Defence has announced plans to cut 29,000 military and 25,000 civilian posts by 2015. As a result, large numbers of ex-service personnel will be soon be entering the UK job market – which can be a great opportunity for hiring managers.

Many British employers already value the talent that exists in the military but we’re not as proactive at recruiting veterans as the US. There, 66 per cent of hiring managers say they would be more likely to hire a veteran over another equally qualified candidate.

Unfortunately, stereotypes and misconceptions persist – for example, will they be able to think for themselves or can they only follow orders? While employers may not always get commercial experience, the barrier between military and the commercial world has narrowed over the last 20 years as the military work closer than ever with civilian contractors. The skills and experience ex-military and reservist personnel bring to the workplace shouldn’t be underestimated.

‘Ex-military men and women are disciplined, tenacious, hard working and have a strong team ethos,’ says Graham Brown, a former Army man who founded Forces Recruitment Services for military personnel leaving the services.

‘They’re skilled at understanding problems, developing solutions and implementing them. In the commercial world, people unusually need to reach a certain level of seniority before they are taught leadership skills, but in the military it starts almost immediately.

‘It cannot be overstated to say they are the best trained workforce in the world. Not only are they highly skilful, they have a “can do” attitude to match – they are used to getting the impossible jobs done; they find a way. Be it tradesman, techie, supervisor, manager or leader across any trade, pause for thought and consider ex-military before you give up.’

Image: © Adam Gregor – Fotolia.com

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