When someone’s on the hunt for a job and considering one of the open positions at your company, one of the first things they’re going to do is look at the job requirements. That makes sense—why waste time on something they know they won’t get hired for?
If someone feels unqualified for an open position, they’re not going to submit their application.
But what if they’d actually be a great fit?
Job requirements are an essential part of a job listing. Nobody’s saying we should ditch them altogether. But they do have the potential to scare off fantastic employees, especially if they’re mainly featuring outdated requirements.
Employers and candidates can view job requirements very differently. Employers often view them as a “wish list”—these things would be great to have. But that doesn’t mean they’re necessary to the job’s function.
Unfortunately, that’s how job candidates often see them. They often read them as if I don’t have everything on this exact list, my application will be instantly deleted.
That’s why reworking your job requirements frequently is a good idea. It prevents them from feeling stale, and it helps candidates see that you’re willing to be a little flexible on some items.
Does that mean you’ll get more applicants through the door who aren’t going to pan out? Possibly. But it also widens the possibility that the perfect candidate will come waltzing through your inbox. It will help you build a stronger talent pool and see potential job candidates more holistically.
As our culture shifts and changes, some traditional job requirements may no longer be necessary. It’s all about looking at what your company truly wants from job applicants and how you can achieve that list of goals.
Consider cutting these out of your open positions or at least reconsidering the weight you place on them.
A Specific College Degree
Many recruiters see a college degree from a 4-year university as a shortcut. Of course this person’s going to be an expert! They have a shiny degree! If you’re hiring a marketer, it makes sense that you’d want someone with a marketing degree.
But what about someone with an advertising degree who’s been in the industry long enough to have a firm, on-the-ground grasp on the marketing industry? Or someone who graduated from a technical school but has had multiple prestigious internships? Or someone who actually has a master’s in history but worked in marketing at a museum for 10 years?
Or, consider how quickly technology changes. Someone who has a software degree from 15 years ago could very well know less about software than someone who has an English degree from a year ago but spends their weekends teaching themselves to code. Degrees from decades ago become less and less valuable in certain industries.
Flexibility around college degrees can make a huge difference in your talent pool. As more people choose nontraditional methods of education, employers can really benefit from the fresh ideas and talent people outside of their tiny industry sphere can bring.
You have no idea the great ideas that someone can bring to the table if you won’t even let them sit because of their lack of what you consider the appropriate degree.
Of course, there are some jobs that require specific degrees or licenses by necessity—you can’t hire a graphic design major as a brain surgeon or someone with a master’s in chemistry as your accountant. Jobs with very technical skills require a certain type of training.
But for many positions, flexibility around specific degrees from a particular type of institution can go a really long way.
For entry-level positions, employers frequently request a grade point average (GPA) from candidates. They want to make sure candidates were responsible and focused in school, pulling great grades and demonstrating expertise in their subject. They’ll even put “3.6 or higher GPA” or similar wording in their job requirement list.
Here’s the problem: You want someone who will have great skills in the real world.
Acing an exam in a four-walled classroom is a separate (though related) task. Some people aren’t great test-takers, but that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t excel with your company. In fact, outside-the-box thinkers—the kind who do amazing work in creative, imaginative industries—are often people who don’t fit the mold of straight A’s.
Lastly, it’s impossible to standardize GPAs across numerous institutions. Is a 3.0 from Harvard equal to a 3.0 from the small state school in your area? Maybe, maybe not.
You have no way of knowing how difficult the professors were at certain schools, how many classes students had to take outside of their majors (and therefore likely to be unrelated to your company’s needs), or whether things were graded on a curve. In some curved classes, 50% on an exam is an A, but the student only learned 50% of the material! GPAs become very unreliable very quickly.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, employees got very used to working from home. Once they realized they could be just as productive without the commute, it was hard to convince them to come back.
More companies than ever have flex work situations in place whereby employees are able to get their work done when and where they choose, as long as they’re meeting deliverables.
This isn’t possible for all industries, and there are plenty of benefits that come from having employees working in-person or on similar schedules. But are there small ways you could offer more flexible working conditions to your employees? Maybe you could provide them with flex holidays or let them work from home on Fridays or ask that they be available on Slack to hold office hours at certain times.
Get creative with employees and their desires, but avoid putting the requirement that they be in the office 9 to 5 in your job requirements. It’s going to scare off plenty of talented people.
Claire Swinarski is a Contributing Editor at HR Daily Advisor.