Employment Law, Oddstuff

The perfect fit – and why software doesnt help

When hiring new employees, employers want to get it right. It has to be the ideal candidate with the right attitude, experience and qualification. He must be able to hit the ground running, require no training and slot in the vacant position like a the final missing piece of a jiggsaw puzzle.  But employers not only want to get it right – they are also anxious, very anxious, that they might get it wrong. Because getting it wrong, i.e. putting a less than perfect candidate into the role, could mean lots of training, disruptions in the team, frustration, and, worst of all, an unpleasant dismissal at the end.

To eliminate the risk of hiring the wrong person, many companies or their respective recruitment agents these days use screening software, which automatically weeds out the candidates who dont have the matching keywords in their resume. For instance, if the employer requires someone with experience in SQL databases, the software will only allow applications with the keyword ‘sql’ to get through. Like with a search you run through google, the more specific you are, the less results you get and – in theory – the more likely it is that the results you get answer your question. So it makes sense to apply the same thinking to recruiting people. The more precise the employer is in defining what they are looking for, the better the match of the candidate. Right?

Well, sort of. Because what has now happened is that some employers have taken the idea of filtering to the extreme and created job profiles so specific that they hardly ever get a match anymore. Trying too hard to find the perfect fit gets no results, apparently. No one can do the job once you put down all the qualities of the ideal candidate. According to the Wall Street Journal “Managers pile up so many requirements that they make it nearly impossible to find anyone who fits.”:


There are of course jobs and trades where specific requirements help finding the right candidate. Software programers, technicians, lab assistants, nurses, hairdressers come to mind. Or all professions where the basic work skills dont change irrespective of the environment. It gets trickie when the job requires a variety and mixture of skills, of which only parts are measurable. Every management position requires such a mixture between qualification, experience and the whole bag of ‘soft skills’ or ’emotional intelligence’, which are almost impossible to assess beforehand. Then there are the job where ‘transferable skills’ are required. Lawyers, for instance, praise themselves of being flexible, able to pick-up new areas of law easily and quickly. 

So where does that leave employers? I guess it means that you should still try finding the best candidate for the job. But break requirements down to the minimum requirements of the position you are looking to fill, the ones you cant do without. And see what happens and who applies.

You might be surprised that you still get it right.


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