Minimum Qualifications: Helpful or Harmful?
I was reading through some job descriptions recently written by a client, and the idea for a blog posting came to me. It’s an exciting topic; minimum qualifications. Yeah, sounds boring, but I’ll keep this short and hopefully make you think carefully before your next recruitment efforts.
When we create job descriptions, we so often just make up some minimum qualifications such as requiring two years experience or a college degree. I realize that for some jobs, there are legal and safety reasons for requiring certain educational and experience backgrounds. I’m not talking about those positions. I’m talking about those jobs where success is highly related to having certain attitudes, natural talents, or personality characteristics, rather than a very specific background. If you can get someone who likes to learn, who is enthusiastic, and whose values fit in well with your organization, you often can train them to do their specific job duties. I’d rather hire someone whose attitude is great and who can learn needed skills, than someone who has learned specific skills yet has a lousy attitude. My point is that if you haphazardly define minimum qualifications, without careful evaluation, you may greatly reduce your best applicant pool, and may end up focusing your attention on the wrong things during interviews.
Here’s an example. Colleen Barrett just recently retired from Southwest Airlines. She was the President. She never attended college. Have you ever seen an executive position advertised, for a multi-billion dollar corporation, that didn’t require AT LEAST a Bachelor’s Degree? Colleen learned everything she knew with on-the-job experience. She loved to learn and had the right values and attitude.
To find out what it really takes to be successful in a certain job, talk to someone who already is. Better yet, have them help you do the interviews. Minimum qualifications are important; just make sure they are truly related to job success.