Candidate lists should reflect the real world and its diversity. To help this, recruiting should focus on personalities and behaviours with future potential, alongside the technical skills you need today. This will create market flexibility, improve candidate mobility and help make workplaces more representative.  

From every 100 hires, 13 fail or leave in the trial period, leading to a total of 33 departing in the first year. Why is the attrition rate so high? There are many reasons, but a prime driver is the need to close the gap between the technical and the soft skills you need to succeed in the role. 

“Of course the basis are still hard skills, but I advise our clients to look beyond education and experience on a candidate´s CV,” says Steven Houben, Executive Director of Michael Page Netherlands. “Some years ago you would hire, let´s say, an IT expert or an accountant solely based on their technical expertise, but the ideal candidate of today should be able to collaborate and communicate with other teams. They need to bring people from different divisions together, which requires soft skills like interview techniques, presenting yourself and project management.” 

Need for situational and emotional intelligence 

At the same time, the expectation of candidates about their work has changed. “Candidates at the level Michael Page recruits for want a personal connection with the company they will work for, and the product or service they are delivering,” explains Joost Fortuin, Managing Director PageGroup Netherlands. “As a consequence they expect to have a say in any decision that is made, which requires close collaboration with one another. Soft skills are essential to make that work.” 

Recruiters and hiring managers will need to focus more on situational and emotional intelligence, on people who have high levels of learning quotient and critical thinking. There is a need to balance hard, technical skills with an adaptable, open personality that fits into your company strategy and culture. To assess these skills, education, location and experience offer little.  

The overarching question is: what skills will drive productivity and business forward? 


Key Insight: Recruiters and hiring managers need to focus on situational and emotional intelligence, on people who have high levels of learning quotient and critical thinking


Today’s reality is not tomorrow’s 

Yesterday’s methodologies are no longer fit for purpose. Some corporations and SMEs are working towards new models, but most still use traditional methods that can accidentally lead to discriminatory biases.  

A recent study by PageGroup shows that almost  40 percent  of the companies in the Netherlands don´t have specific measures in place to increase diversity in the workplace. “If companies want to stay competitive, it´s key that they start investing in a diverse workforce,” says Joost Fortuin. “Soft skills play an important role in any good diversity management plan. You need candidates with the right behavioural and social skills to make a diverse team work together.” 

It is important to evaluate the work environment, the team and the open position to understand the behavioural skills required today and in the future, to protect against the placement failing in the first year. By better understanding all the skills needed for the open position, the list of candidates presented for the role can be wider and more diverse.  

Behavioural skills will only grow in importance as more automation and AI enters the workplace. Machines will perform technical and routine tasks, requiring people to programme and monitor them, report on their work and improve human productivity. Adding to the complexity of recruiting is the fact that candidates with high potential do not need to compromise their desire for meaningful and purposeful work.


Key Insight: By understanding the reality of the working environment in your company today you can tap into the promise and potential of the kind of candidates that can bring the skills you need tomorrow.


Focus on the future, not experience   

Candidates want to understand their mission and how it fits into the overall purpose of the company. Recruiters must reverse the prism of evaluating candidates to reflect this reality, with the support of HR and decision-makers in companies.  

The focus needs to be on potential and growth, not a narrow focus on experience and less valuable metrics, such as education and previous employment.  

Just as candidates want an open view into the company, to understand the what and the why behind their role, so employers need an open view on the productivity and potential the candidate brings. That way, your company can ensure the position you need filled remains so for the long-term, not temporarily.   


Key Insight: Recruiter and hiring manager focus needs to be on the potential a candidate brings with them, focusing on future growth and not on static experience from the past.


How can you become more than a talent scout?  

Sourcing a candidate is one thing. Placing them into a role for the long-term is quite different and requires deep understanding of the team you are hiring for and the way they work.  

The integration, or onboarding, phase of recruitment is now more important than ever, specifically to avoid the placement failing because of a lack of cultural or skills fit. People often leave roles due to the way of working, the culture of an organisation or the misunderstood nature of the role itself, all of which stem from a lack of visibility during the hiring process.  

This highlights the gap that currently exists thanks to outdated methods of assessing candidate suitability through a narrow focus on technical skills. If personality and behavioural skills are only judged after placement, the likelihood of a lack of compatibility between employer and employee increases dramatically.  


Key Insight: People leave roles due to the way of working, the culture of the organisation, and the nature of the role itself, so with better visibility during the hiring process this can be avoided, helping you become a talent manager, not simply a talent finder .


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