The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same – What Matters to Employers in the Hiring Process #EWS2015

Editor’s Note: Women of HR has partnered with Spherion on a series of sponsored posts to bring you highlights and commentary from their 2015 Emerging Workforce Study, which contains a great deal of interesting data and statistics about future trends in the workforce and our workplaces.  This is the fifth in that series.

  

ln the last post in this series, we examined the changing face of the job search from the job seekers perspective, and what we as employers need to know about how and where to find candidates.  This month we’re going to flip that around and look at the hiring process from the employer’s perspective.  Because, as we’ve seen throughout this year’s Emerging Workforce Study, what employers think and what employees/workers/job seekers think don’t always sync up.  And it appears that the topic of the job search and hiring process is no exception.

According to the study, often job seekers believe that their current employment status weighs pretty heavily as potential employers assess their qualifications.  After all, common wisdom suggests that it’s always better to look for a new job while you’re still employed, right?  Gaps in employment on a resume are bad, right?  If you’re not currently working, that suggests that there’s something wrong, correct?

Maybe not so much.

Most employers and HR leaders realize that in today’s world, in the uncertain business climate in which we all operate, sometimes there are factors outside of an employee’s control that contribute to current employment status.  Good people get laid off.  Downsizing happens.  Mergers and acquisitions lead to reductions in force.  Spouses get transferred, often forcing the other to abandon their own employment to follow along to a new city or even new country.  There are plenty of talented potential employees out there who may not be currently employed.  And furthermore, in a climate where we all want the best talent available, we’re more interested in what you can offer, what you can contribute to our company’s goals than what you may or may not be doing right now.

In fact, looking at the 2015 Emerging Workforce Study, here’s what really matter to employers in the hiring process:

  • 33% are influenced by interview performance
  • 33% say cultural fit in the organization
  • 13% say the jobseeker’s resume
  • 9% say personality assessments
  • 8% say current employment status

What Does This Tell the Job Seeker?

First and foremost, the interview matters.  There’s no arguing this.  You could have the most solid resume and credentials, but if you can’t connect with your interviewer or articulate the value you would bring to the organization, you probably won’t get past the interview process.  Basic interviewing skills are still necessary.  So before you walk into one, take some time to prepare, to brush up on possible questions you may be asked, to fully understand how your past experience relates to the position available and how to articulate that.

Secondly, skills and experience will only get you so far.  More and more employers are putting an emphasis on the importance of whether or not someone will fit within their given organization.  On paper you could be a perfect fit, but if in the interview you don’t come across as someone who will gel with the culture of that organization, you may not move on in the process.  Speaking from my own experience, one of my most important roles in the interview process is to assess whether or not the person sitting across the table from me will connect with the manager, team, and overall organization.  Once the minimum qualifications are met, the other technical skills can be trained.  Cultural fit cannot, and the cost of a bad cultural fit goes well beyond the basic costs of onboarding and training, potentially having a negative impact on the productivity of others on the team or damaging morale.  So beyond prepping for questions that may be asked during the interview, job seekers need to do their homework about the organization as a whole.  Use resources like Glassdoor to get a flavor for the organizational culture.  Examine your own networks for contacts within the organization to get an insiders perspective on what it’s like to work there.  Prepare to demonstrate not just the technical qualifications you bring, but how your personality and work style may complement the culture.  All other things being equal, the candidate who demonstrates the best fit will likely be the one to move on in the process.

The face of the job search may be changing for both employers and job seekers, but there are still some things that remain constant, and the interview is still the critical moment that can make or break the process.

 

 

Disclosure: Spherion partnered with bloggers such as me for their Emerging Workforce Study program. As part of this program, I received compensation for my time. They did not tell me what to purchase or what to say about any idea mentioned in these posts. Spherion believes that consumers and bloggers are free to form their own opinions and share them in their own words. Spherion’s policies align with WOMMA Ethics Code, FTC guidelines and social media engagement recommendations.

About the Author

Jennifer Payne

Jennifer Payne, SPHR, SHRM-SCP has almost two decades of HR experience in employee relations, talent acquisition, learning & development, and employee communications, and currently works in talent management in the retail grocery industry. She is one of the co-founders of Women of HR, and is currently the Editor of the site. You can connect with her on Twitter as @JennyJensHR and on LinkedIn.

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