Hiring in today's labor market: 4 candidate 'red flags' you may want to overlook

When the job market was at its worst, recruiters could afford to be more selective with candidates they chose to interview. But, in this tight labor market, recruiters need to find ways to widen their hiring pools. 
One way to do this? Try looking at candidates who, in the past, may have been eliminated in the early stages of the hiring process, due to reasons that aren’t exactly relevant anymore.
Evil HR Lady Suzanne Lucas explains which resume “red flags” shouldn’t immediately disqualify a candidate, since after an interview, you might discover they would be a good fit.

1. Laid off from last job

Lay-offs are not at all representative of an employee’s ability or work ethic. Over 300,000 workers experienced lay-offs during the 2008-2009 recession; odds are, many of them were good employees who were just in the wrong job at the wrong time.
Often, a lay-off is just an indicator of financial instability at a candidate’s previous company. To get to the reason behind the lay-off, ask a candidate if they could explain a little bit about their previous company’s situation during this time.

2. Big gaps in work history

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are 1.4 million Americans who have been unemployed for 27 weeks or longer.
But just because candidates have been out of the workforce for a while, doesn’t mean they’d be a bad hire. There could be many reasons why it’s been a while since their last job — but you won’t know unless you ask them about it.
To get a better idea of what they could bring to the table, ask these candidates what their short-term and long-term career goals are.

3. No bachelor’s degree

In today’s job market, a bachelor’s degree seems like a requirement for practically every job. But ask yourself: Is that degree really necessary for this job? Or could years of work experience make up for the lack of college education?
When speaking to these candidates, find out more about relevant skills they’ve learned over the years. See if they have further education plans in the future, too.

4. Record of job-hopping

At first glance, switching jobs a lot seems like a deal-breaker. Why should you hire someone if they most likely won’t stick around? And maybe they do get bored easily, but there might be an explanation for all the job-hopping.
The candidate might’ve joined a start-up that went under in six months. Maybe their spouse got a job across the country so they moved, or maybe they had the worst manager in the world.
None of these reasons have anything to do with the candidate being disloyal or wishy-washy, but you won’t know unless you ask.

Rachel Mucha
Rachel writes about Human Resource management and has been a member of the HRMorning staff since 2017. She is a graduate of Ithaca College. Email: rmucha@hrmorning.com