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Modern workplaces increasingly demand dynamic skill sets, creative problem-solving, and adaptability — especially in the midst of a pandemic. To keep up with the complex, fast-paced, ever-changing world of business today, hiring managers are under intense pressure to find high-ability candidates as quickly as possible.

But a resume is hardly enough to determine whether a given candidate has what it takes to confidently handle modern workplace challenges. Our hiring practices have to keep pace with the evolving world of work, and that means trading the old methods for rigorous, objective measures that accurately assess a candidate’s capacity to learn new skills, adjust to new cultures, and collaborate productively.

How the Workforce Is Evolving

According to a 2019 SHRM study, 83 percent of companies report they’re struggling to recruit the right candidates. Is this because the right candidates don’t exist — or is it because companies don’t know how to find and recruit them?

The modern economy is built on highly skilled talent. As data analysis, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, and similar fields have come to dominate business, the average job has become far more skill-dependent. With the emergence of AI and the increasing reliance on automation, many of today’s jobs won’t exist tomorrow, while entirely new jobs will take their place. Dell Technologies and the Institute for the Future forecast that around 85 percent of the jobs people will be doing in 2030 haven’t been invented yet. When recruiting candidates who can adapt to the jobs of tomorrow, organizations need to be looking for those with elevated learning abilities, aptitude for problem-solving, and critical-thinking skills.

Savvy business leaders and managers are already preparing for the shift to a more flexible, trainable, tech-savvy workforce. According to a 2019 report from Inavero and Upwork, more and more managers — especially young, up-and-coming managers — are investing in flexible talent strategies and ranking future workforce planning as a top priority

It’s Time to Abandon Antiquated Hiring Practices

Many companies still make hires according to the outdated notion that a summary of an applicant’s experience and a brief chat can tell us everything we need to know about a candidate. Not only is this evaluation method reductionist and misleading, but it can also lead to bias and discrimination. What the modern economy calls for instead is a data-driven hiring strategy.

We’re witnessing a series of major transformations in the workforce and the workplace, brought on by radical technological innovations and evolutions. How could reviewing resumes and interviewing candidates possibly be enough for today’s hiring managers to assess a candidate’s capabilities in this new context?

For example, the SHRM survey cited above reports that one of the reasons why many hiring managers struggle with recruiting is because they find candidates lack vital soft skills like critical thinking and communication. But how can a hiring manager determine whether a prospective employee possesses these qualities if all they have to go on is a resume and a quick interview?

A better way to get an accurate picture of a candidate’s potential — including their soft skills — would be to deploy preemployment assessments that measure critical traits such as cognitive aptitude, emotional intelligence, and job-related behavioral tendencies.  Research has shown that cognitive aptitude assessments are significantly more predictive of job performance than job experience or education because they measure those very qualities that are so difficult to evaluate through traditional means.

Building and Maintaining a Diverse Workforce

While the technological transformation of work is one key reason why outdated hiring process should be discarded, it’s not the only one. As companies increasingly recognize the imperative to build more diverse workforces, they’re also realizing how prone to bias our traditional recruiting methods can be.

Diverse and inclusive companies are more likely to be high-performing and innovative than their less diverse counterparts. More importantly, there’s an ethical dimension to the matter as well: Companies should build diverse and inclusive cultures because doing so is the only way to treat every employee and applicant with the respect they deserve.

Extensive evidence shows that traditional hiring methods often lead to discrimination, a problem that isn’t being addressed nearly fast enough. By replacing traditional recruiting strategies with impartial, data-driven methods, organizations can better position themselves to hire, onboard, and support people from a variety of backgrounds.

Research in industrial and organizational psychology highlights that structured interviews, cognitive aptitude assessments, and work samples are some of the most predictive recruiting tactics available. What’s more, incorporating these kinds of evidence-based elements into your hiring also ensures you make fairer hiring decisions. By prioritizing these more objective measures, you give less weight to elements which can lead to bias, such as resumes and unstructured interviews.

Companies certainly have plenty of work to do to keep up with the sweeping changes currently taking place in the workforce, but they should view this as an opportunity. By bringing their hiring practices up to speed, they’ll make it easier to cultivate the kinds of diverse, agile workforces that are best positioned to thrive in a rapidly changing economy.

Josh Millet is founder and CEO of Criteria Corp.

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