3 ways empathy should be part of hiring

March 24, 2021

If you want engaged employees who feel part of the team, everyone from the recruiter and hiring manager to the boss has to treat workers from a person-first perspective. This sentiment is at the heart of skills-based hiring, or analyzing a candidate’s qualifications based on their soft or technical skills, rather than solely on education or experience. 

How do you incorporate empathy into your hiring process and company culture? These three tactics are especially relevant as we see the beginning of a post-pandemic workforce, plus will help you lay the groundwork for a flexible, talented team.   

Don’t scrutinize a candidate’s resume gaps 

Ignoring resume gaps is already a growing trend, as many people take breaks or pauses from their careers for medical reasons, personal adventures or economic constraints; a resume gap doesn’t inherently make a candidate less talented or employable. With massive layoffs and record unemployment in the past 12 months, you’re even more likely to see applications from perfectly qualified candidates whose industries and employers were negatively impacted by the pandemic. 

On top of that, the “Mom-batical” is also increasingly common. Women are taking short breaks from their career to raise a family, or, in the case of the pandemic, were essentially forced to reduce hours or leave the workforce to prioritize caregiving. De-prioritizing an emphasis on resume gaps can build a more empathetic process (and eventually, culture), while helping to bring women back to the workforce and connect with candidates based on their skills. 

Consider less traditional career paths 

Don't toss someone’s application simply because their experience isn’t a back-to-back linear progression through job titles or company ranks. This strategy is essential to hiring for skills but also to creating a more inclusive team. Whether a candidate needed to work any job they could to make ends meet, or someone simply figured out what they truly wanted in a career, recognize that valuable skills can be learned from those past roles and brought into new experiences. As you start hiring again (or hiring more), understand that 2020 was extra tough on workers and even temporary roles might have amped up a candidate’s skills in unexpected ways. Looking ahead, it might be more common to see a variety of experiences from this time frame, and knowing that can help you build a stronger, better team. 

Offer upskilling, re-skilling and other professional development 

From addressing the skills gap to training for very specific technical knowledge, you should expect to offer support to your team in this constantly evolving work landscape. As technology changes, as more people work remotely and as skills-based hiring becomes more prevalent, you’ll need to invest in professional development for potential and current employees. Being upfront about this can improve your employer brand on the hiring side, as well as assist with retention internally. A candidate might have the right soft skills and limited technical knowledge, but a certificate program might formalize and standardize their skillset. Or, similarly, a current employee might have gained a lot of perspective and experience on the job, and a seminar or ongoing training can fine tune their fit on the team.  

Investing in employees promotes inclusivity, diversity of thought and experiences, can help with retention, and promotes a positive employer brand. 

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