Before this question can be answered, the meaning of “qualified” should be clarified. Some employers view qualified as someone who simply possesses the technical skills in order to properly complete the tasks that the position entails, while others may view someone who has worked in a similar role or industry as qualified despite not possessing all of the technical skills the job requires. However, it isn’t very smart to generalize the meaning of qualified by painting it as such a black and white issue.
There is much more that should be examined by employers, beyond the more traditional qualifiers, such as their ability to balance a collaborative work environment and demonstrating self-sufficiency. Qualification and how it’s defined will differ depending on the role, company, as well as many other factors. Soft skills as well as hard skills are becoming equally important in the workplace, it’s important to be familiar with the skill sets that can help increase earning potential and desirability to potential employers.
The goal should be identifying what types of roles, companies, industries, etc. might prioritize traditional qualifiers vs. companies that will look beyond those and seek out traits demonstrated during an interview to determine if they are a good fit. The latter is typically seen for those that are looking to break into a new industry where their previous experience/technical skills might not be as applicable, but their capability shines through during the interview process. Companies are fully aware of the necessity to alter company culture that caters more towards this new generation entering the workforce. A common philosophy surrounding company culture is “Plan, Build, and Maintain”. The planning stage is vital as it allows a company to develop an idea about the culture you want to build and then gives the company a clearer picture in terms of what types of candidates should be targeted to fit that desired culture. Certain companies, particularly startups excel when identifying those “beyond the qualifiers” candidates that will have an impact down the road. Companies like that try to nurture the growth of those entering the workforce as younger people are known for demonstrating a stronger sense of flexibility and willingness to adjust their methods since no habits are really set in stone for them. Older employees are more likely to exhibit a sense of stubbornness due having done things a certain way for so long and being more resistant towards learning new, daunting ways to do things. As an employer, when looking at the information beyond their traditional qualifiers, be sure to gauge the willingness for a candidate to be flexible when it comes to learning new processes, adjusting strategy on the fly, and collaborating with team members. An employee like that who may not necessarily possess all of the skills and experience desired still has a good chance of showing better growth potential over somebody who is demonstrates resistance to any change.
Many people possess the necessary skills and experience for a role, but employers should almost always prioritize examining the communication styles of prospective employees. While a more traditionally qualified candidate might be more proficient with some of the skills required for the role, they may not necessarily have the communication skills to know when to talk things out with their team, boss, or clients. Given the fact that strong leaders typically have effective communication skills, you’ll certainly want an employee that holds this skillset. They will be more likely to take initiative, creating ownership checklists and inspiring colleagues. Transparent communication is typically one of the first things you’ll notice about an effective leader. They are transparent when communicating their expectations. They are clear in their feedback they provide whether it’s praise or constructive criticism. One who is not transparent in their communication leaves room for issues to fester. If you’re in a leadership role, be the leader you’d want yourself. Wesley Ward, VP of Marketing of Hausera says that “If you can do more than pay lip service and truly demonstrate the traits of a mindful leader, people will naturally try to emulate you.” Examine how you would feel if you were new to the workforce, and your “leader” wasn’t being clear in their communication. Employees should want and expect clear communication all the way from their first meeting with a company until the day they retire. For example, whether you’re 5 or 40 years away from retirement, a company should be prepared to address any reservations an employee may have regarding leaving the workforce and entering retirement. A company should be able to communicate precisely what benefits there are working for them versus another company. A lack of communication on any of these fronts is an indicator of leadership that could use improvement. A prospective employee who has the potential for growing into a leadership role down the road will likely have earned a large part of that potential through exemplary communication skills.
Dealing with Adversity
When gauging the variety in terms of a candidate’s level of qualifications, getting a grasp on their ability to handle any degree of adversity can be an enormous indicator of future value. Your company could have a candidate who leads the pack as far as the more traditional qualifiers are concerned, but due to a lack of willingness to go outside their comfort zones when learning new processes, and an inability to handle any sort of adversity, their value could plateau much sooner than a candidate who while less qualified now, has potential value that knows no bounds. While it’s important to target employees, who demonstrate an ability to handle adversity, it’s also equally as important for an employer to provide the tools for an employee to effectively deal with any sort of adversity in the workplace. While certain industries face more adversity than others, that doesn’t downplay the importance of being able to combat stress in an effective way that doesn’t detract from the quality of your work. It boils down to finding a candidate that can pair the ability to handle adversity with respectable qualifications.
Ultimately, it’s a balance between finding the “most qualified” and the “best fit” in terms of skills, experience, communication, and potential future value. There are tons of resources available that highlight the most important qualities of a good employee. It may be wise to outline a list of important qualities and pick the top five for your organization. In terms of how to prioritize these things as an employer, it’s going to depend on the role in which the potential employee is applying for, the needs of the company, as well as many other factors. There isn’t a straightforward equation that will spit out the best candidate. It’s more of a testament to the quality of leadership when leaders are given the tools to identify high-value employees and are able to look beyond traditional qualifiers and still make a balanced decision. The variance between roles has a noteworthy impact as well. For instance, a more technical role that is rooted in independence and self-sufficient work will likely lean on the more traditional qualifiers to gauge a candidate's aptitude for the job. However, when company culture, communication, and soft skills are more pertinent, it becomes essential to look beyond technical qualifiers. Make sure that as you are seeking out all-star candidates to join your team, that you are providing valuable incentives that exceed what your competitors are offering.