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Measuring Potential

How businesses can look past resumes, skills and experience when hiring

The Straits Times

5th Dec 2016

Did you know that Jeff Bezos, CEO and founder of Amazon, began his career behind a McDonald’s counter? Or that Jack Ma, founder and Executive Chairman of Alibaba Group applied for 30 different jobs – including KFC – and got rejected?

If a company were to assess these individuals at that point in time based on their resumes, the world would be a different place today.

While a resume is important, recruiters should take into account the ability to learn and integrate new experiences to form new behaviours and ways of thinking, resilience, or emotional intelligence – which amount to a single tangible factor in the hiring process: the potential of a candidate.

Resumes are basic, concise consolidations of a candidate’s skills and capabilities. Research shows that recruiters only spend an average of 6.25 seconds looking at it.

But in this Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous (VUCA) environment, what recruiters need to know is if a candidate is suitable for company culture and possesses the core attributes that companies look for.

While resumes are the first point of contact between a recruiter and a candidate, HR departments should look beyond resumes and abilities.

Here are four benefits that come with assessing a candidate’s potential.

  1. Retain top talent

    Being able to assess potential is imperative in these cases as a majority of internal candidates lack the ‘90% skills and experience’ match that recruiters often expect from external CVs. 

    By looking past resumes, a company can tap into employee’s drivers, transferable skills, or “coachability” and match them to jobs in the organisation they may not have considered otherwise. 

    Because changing careers has become common, companies hope to retain top talent by moving individuals both vertically and laterally across a company. In order to do that effectively, organisations need to look beyond a candidate’s immediate capability to perform a given role.

  2. Thrive in the gig economy

    The freelance market is growing steadily in Singapore, and freelancers benefit by constantly picking up new skill sets.

    This also benefits employers by providing the temporary skills required without having to fork out the investment of a full time staff. However, freelancers and the likes are very rarely assessed outside of their resume and specific skills and capabilities that they are engaged for in the first place.

    A broader impact on the business could be made by assessing the potential of temporary staff. Looking beyond a contractor’s skill set, and to their potential to align their own objectives with the business’, and the ability to deal with ambiguity, ensures that businesses will get the most out of their such workers.

  3. Beat the skills gap

    From manufacturing to software, many industries today are facing a large skills gap. By limiting themselves to resumes, recruiters actually shrink the talent pool available to them. By assessing potential, along with resumes, recruiters are able to discover a larger group of candidates that are suitable for their organisations.

  4. Become ‘future-proof’
    They say that the next Industrial Revolution is coming to Southeast Asia. Roles that we aren’t even aware of yet will start to exist, and skills will be needed that are currently beyond our imagination.

    Organisations hoping to survive will need to constantly reinvent themselves. Therefore HR and business leaders should be critically aware of the type of capabilities and skills they will need in the future.

    They need to ensure they employ individuals who can learn, adapt to change, and have the potential to possibly even disrupt their business by exploring new ideas, spotting gaps in the market, exploring strategic partnerships, and evaluating their business value.

    This will prepare organisations for what the future holds for their industry.

If businesses want to enter the future world of work, HR teams will need to start building a case for defining what potential means to their own company and start assessing it. Looking at the potential of candidates could allow businesses to reach their full potential.

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