The Loosening of Job Requirements

As the unemployment rate has continued to reach historic lows, a new report from Adecco USA, part of the world’s leading workforce solutions company, found that 37% of employers have loosened job requirements in order to recruit talent, and 72% of these companies have done so within the last year.

The survey, which polled decision makers in the US who are responsible for hiring temporary workers, found that 15% of employers plan to loosen requirements and another 17% are considering doing so.

Some ways these companies are loosening requirements includes lowering the required years of experience (62%), reducing education requirements (50%), speeding up the hiring process (52%), stopping drug testing candidates (21%), and stopping background checks (16%).

“To compete in today’s tight labor market, employers across industries are becoming more flexible with their job requirements,” said Amy Glaser, senior vice president, Adecco USA. “In many cases employers are bringing in talent that may not have all the skills needed and then upskilling or training candidates to complete job-specific tasks.”

The survey revealed that 78% of these companies have started to consider applicants with transferable skill sets. The study also found that one in three decision makers (35%) would be likely to hire a temporary worker with a criminal conviction in their past if their skill set applies to the job.

Of those who participated in the survey, 70% of companies are offering flexible schedules for employees. The majority (62%) are offering more shift options to attract and retain workers. Other popular approaches include giving employees the option to select their own shift schedule (39%), increasing the amount of personal days given to employees (38%) and offering the option to work remotely (33%).

Loosening Requirements in Order to Find More Candidates

According to the survey, all decision makers state it is hardest to find workers with the desired experience (59%), the right hard skills such as specific tech certifications (57%) or desired level of education (30%). Nearly half (49%) of companies who have loosened or plan to loosen their requirements did so because they were unable to find enough qualified candidates. Of those that are planning to loosen requirements, 47% hope to see a larger pool of qualified candidates for each position by loosening hiring requirements.

“With the shallow candidate pool, many employers face challenges identifying candidates that meet all the qualifications traditionally required. By loosening requirements, employers may open up an entirely new group of candidates, which can enable them to better fill in-demand positions,” said Glaser. “In fact, the survey found that by loosening requirements, many respondents (47%) saw an increase in applications and 42% said their pool of qualified candidates for each position had become larger.”

Loosening Requirements in Order to Speed up Hiring

One third (33%) of respondents reported they decided to loosen requirements because they noticed they were losing job candidates to competitors and nearly half said they weren’t able to fill open positions quickly enough. More than a third of employers have experienced candidates taking job offers from one of their competitors, forcing companies to think outside of the box when offering positions to candidates.

“The shelf life of a candidate can shrink from days to 24 hours,” said Glaser. “If a company requires background checks, drug screening and three interviews, the candidate is going to walk down the street and get a job somewhere else. It is imperative companies get candidates in the door—and through interview processes—quickly.”

Common issues respondents of the survey noted during the hiring process include candidates leaving the hiring process in favor of “gig” or freelance work (32%), candidates who stop returning calls/emails during the hiring process (44%) and candidates who realize the role is not a great fit during the interview process (41%).

Since loosening requirements, half of companies who were interviewed said hiring candidates became a faster process—most said it became moderately to much faster (90%). Of those that did loosen requirements, 35% said they conduct fewer steps to hire candidates. This includes requiring fewer interviews, and removing background checks, among other methods.


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