Why Smart STEM Employers Hire on Potential, Not Experience

While it serves as most employers’ go-to measuring stick, past performance is not a guarantee for future success. This is particularly true when it comes to hiring STEM talent, the fastest-growing talent demographic, with demand expected to grow by 13 percent from 2012 to 2022, to a total of 9 million jobs.1 Combined with today’s low unemployment rate, many hiring managers are finding that focusing on experience, and even education, leaves them with slim and costly pickings. To address this, many hiring managers have explored the idea of evaluating candidates for potential as a hiring tactic. Here are four reasons why hiring for potential, not experience, is an increasingly smart strategy:

Education doesn’t always mean success

In fact, on the predictors of performance, education came in at 0.09 on a scale of 0 to 1 – which is well below an acceptable correlation. Recruiting from the top universities, compared to a wider selection pool that includes lower ranked institutions, will eliminate many high potential applicants.2 Conversely, when cognitive ability is combined with a behavioral assessment and a structured interview, the predictive ability of a candidate’s job performance soars to 58 percent! A huge jump from the 1 percent we get from education alone.3

Cultural fit means they will thrive and be engaged

An employee retention study found that 81 percent of new hires have the technical skills needed to succeed in their role, but still fail as an employee.4 Hiring a candidate who meshes well with the manager and the team, or is enthusiastic about your brand, means candidates are more likely be motivated. Additionally, giving a less experienced candidate a chance to prove themselves lets you measure how likely they are to thrive while driving employee loyalty.

Alternative recruiting sources boosts diversity

While there is nothing wrong with recruiting and hiring where everyone else does, this strategy increases the chances that the candidates you are considering are considering offers from multiple employers. Some of the many underrepresented demographics with STEM potential that go overlooked include veterans, women returning to the workforce, workers with disabilities, under-employed part-time workers, and immigrants. Tapping trainable STEM talent from these groups can also contribute to creating a more diverse, representative, and subsequently profitable workforce.5

More options, less cost

At the end of the day, there is a greater supply of candidates that have potential but lack experience. From fresh graduates to seasoned non-STEM professionals looking to explore switching to a stem career, this relatively plentiful supply reduces costs and allows you to bring in the talent you need to support accelerated growth.

Whether it be STEM talent or otherwise, hiring really great people goes beyond skills and resumes. It calls for understanding what makes a person tick – or ticks them off – and finding their common ties with the company. In the past, hiring has gravitated toward arbitrary and subjective measures, making it difficult to reveal a candidate’s true potential. Today, modern hiring tools and hiring experts are helping companies harness untapped talent effectively and cost efficiently, while giving diamonds in the rough a chance to shine.

  1. Recruiting Down to a Science, Rafter, Michelle, Workforce Magazine (12/22/15) https://www.workforce.com/2015/12/22/recuiting-down-to-a-science/

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