Customer Success, Talent Acquisition

4 Tips Companies Should Consider in Supporting Non-Traditional Talent

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During our fourth annual Workforce Week, taking place this week, many at Workday are volunteering their time to mentor job seekers in underserved communities. And last month, we held our inaugural Opportunity Onramps workforce development conference. Both of these events reflect the fact that while talent is everywhere, the opportunity is not.

This is consistent with recent data from Glassdoor, which found roughly 5.1 million unique online U.S. job listings on its site, resulting in approximately $272.6 billion in base pay that’s sitting dormant. As employers and hiring managers, we have the opportunity to open the top of the funnel to include candidates that may not have had a linear path through higher education or any previous corporate work experience, or have large gaps on their resumes due to caregiving breaks. In turn, we get access to untapped talent that benefits our business and creates a more inclusive culture while providing people with on-ramps to thriving careers.

Here are four tips I recommend hiring managers and employers consider when looking to contribute to this change:

1. Don’t overinflate job descriptions.

Too many job descriptions elevate a role with advanced requirements. There’s no reason to add a four-year degree requirement to a job listing if it isn’t actually needed to get the job done. By inflating job descriptions, companies are missing out on an entire group of talented individuals that may have the skills and aptitude needed to accomplish a job, but don’t ever get the opportunity to demonstrate it when the door is closed right out of the gates.

At Workday, we’re continually looking for ways to remove barriers from our application and recruitment process. For example, we’ve taken a critical eye to our job descriptions and removed the four-year degree requirement wherever possible. See our Workday careers site and Glassdoor company page for more.

[Related: How to Write Great Job Descriptions]

2. Interview based on skills and potential, not just a resume.

When reviewing resumes and interviewing candidates for a job role, rather than focus on whether they did the exact same job at a different company, consider hiring for potential. This could mean giving candidates an assessment test on the first round of interviews versus later in the process to understand their skillset early on. The goal is to hire people for the quality of their skills, which they may have gained outside the typical corporate setting—for example, military veterans or people who have been out of the workforce for a number of years.

We believe that the right fit from an aptitude and attitude perspective—including being a match to our core values—is oftentimes more important than having former experience in a specific position, which can be taught through training and development.

[Related: How to Screen for Retention]

Our hiring managers focus on the long-term vision for their teams, so questions that help to assess creative problem-solving skills or an innovative mindset can help a manager better understand how the candidate would approach certain tasks. We also value the opinions of our employees, which is why we have a robust employee referral program. Our employees know and live our core values, so we take their referrals seriously, regardless of the candidate’s background.

3. Form mutually beneficial partnerships.

There are many great organizations that have been doing this work for a number of years and need more companies willing to provide participants with work experience. For example, Workday partners with nonprofits like Year Up, which assists people ages 18 to 24 nationwide who aren’t immediately college bound. After six months of technical training and workplace skills development, Year Up participants are placed in internships in areas such as IT support and cybersecurity, often which lead to full-time jobs. We’ve had dozens of interns go through the program so far, the bulk of who are now full-time employees at Workday, and we’re excited to welcome a brand new cohort of Year Up interns in July. These young adults have come with some pre-training skills that allow them to hit the ground running, and have proven to be successful Workday employees.

[Related: The 5 Talent Pools You’re Overlooking]

4. Keep the learning going.

Once you find and hire great talent, it’s important to keep a growth mindset, providing continuous learning for employees to develop and advance within your organization. One way to do this is by connecting employees with mentors that can be their trusted partners to answer any questions and help them understand their career paths. We have found success with mentorship programs, such as Workday LEAP, which is a program designed to increase the number of women in leadership, and Workday’s Career Accelerator Program, which provides technical training for military veterans.

Being surrounded by passionate Workday employees as well as representatives from companies that are excited to create on-ramps for non-traditional talent is nothing short of inspiring. However, we and other organizations are just beginning to scratch the surface of this issue. We’re continually asking how can we upskill talent and provide mobility for employees once they’re hired? How do we help people as they continue growing their careers? These are some of the questions that we all need to keep top of mind as we continue the conversation around closing the opportunity divide.

Carrie Varoquiers is the Vice President, Global Impact at Workday, and President of the Workday Foundation. Learn more about Workday by visiting their Glassdoor employer profile.

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