4 ‘Deal-Breakers’ You Should Throw Out of Your Hiring Rubric

We’re in a serious hiring slump. Nearly half of small business owners say they’re struggling to find qualified job applicants, and more than a third have been unable to fill recent openings.

So how can you deal with this extreme labor shortage? Try widening your applicant pool—by considering candidates you previously would have rejected.

Now, hear us out. We know many of the common hiring “deal-breakers” were established for a reason, but times—and the economy—have changed.

How is the job market different now than it was 10 years ago? Let us count the ways:

We’re living in a new world, so it’s time to say goodbye to old expectations and start adapting to a new normal.

Here are four situations that traditionally landed candidates in the “no” pile—and the interview questions that will help you determine if they’re a fit.

To read the four things, click here: 4 ‘Deal-Breakers’ You Should Throw Out of Your Hiring Rubric

Share your “red flags” that aren’t real flags in the comments. Please?

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21 thoughts on “4 ‘Deal-Breakers’ You Should Throw Out of Your Hiring Rubric

  1. The bachelor degree requirement is one I’ve watched a couple of my friends and family struggle with. I know sorting through candidates is difficult, but just cutting off candidates seems… short-sighted.

  2. The best field team lead I knew didn’t have a degree. He was in charge of field operations on a huge, complex, and extremely dangerous jobsite, coordinating with multiple clients, multiple subcontractors, and multiple contractors that were running parallel to us (meaning they were working directly for our client, and therefore we had no authority over them). I have carried lessons learned from that man with me to every other jobsite since. But he couldn’t advance, because he didn’t have a degree.

    That sort of thing isn’t just short-sighted. It’s magical thinking at its worst: the belief that the voodoo stamp of a university degree is more important than the ability to do the job.

  3. Regarding lack of a college degree: Bill Gates (Microsoft founder), Steve Jobs (Apple founder), and Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook) dropped out of college and started their companies. I don’t think they every finished a college degree!

  4. Also, I would add to this list, don’t automatically reject an older person or someone who may be overqualified. This happened to me. In the tech field for over 20 years and I got laid off. While I have a job now, I am very underemployed.

    Another thing I would add relates to the “skills gap”. I have over 20 years tech experience but it is all in the old main-frame computer systems. It was what my company specialized in. I had a national reputation and I was working on an international one. Then I got laid off. I have yet to get back into the tech field because I don’t have Windows server experience or experience in other new systems. Believe me, if someone like me who was a SysAdmin on an old main-frame system, that person can learn how to be a SysAdmin on a Windows (or any other similar) system.

    In other words, don’t cut people out just because they are old (which is against the law anyway), overqualified, or does not have the *specific* experience you are looking for. Often, if someone has a ton of experience in a similar area, they can quickly learn your specific area.

  5. STAHP discounting candidates who don’t send a thank you note after an interview! Certainly it is not ideal, but when a candidate is working full time and juggling multiple companies courting them? I think it’s asinine to use this as a reason to disqualify someone. I have to coach my hiring managers on this every other day.

    1. I am the HR Director at a medical clinic and I’d probably hire an applicant who actually sent one. I’ve decided that they’ve went the way of the written letter.

      1. (my internet crashed in the middle of my comment)
        I don’t see where job applicants send them at all anymore so I no longer expect to get one.

        Sure, they are nice, but not a deal breaker for me on someone who was otherwise very hireable.

  6. I second the age discrimination comment. As far as a people shortage? I don’t buy it, I’ve heard the same whining for years and I look around in my circle (high tech) and see so many underemployed or unemployed because they don’t have some acronym after their name for a “special” certification, or they are older, or they are introverts and don’t interview well, or on the spectrum. Are these companies really wanting to hire the right person for the job or the right person for them? it’s not the same. I’m in the Seattle area and for each job application there are hundreds of applicants. That doesn’t sound like a talent shortage to me, just the opposite.

    1. Yeah, every time I hear about the “talent shortage”, I am like “Cry me a River!”

      1. I read my local complaints of, “We can’t find skilled, experienced welders for $12/hour!” not as talent shortage but as cheap@ss employers who won’t increase wages enough to attract qualified people.

        (This goes with, “But if we can’t have illegal immigrants to exploit for $1/hour, the lettuce and tomatoes will rot in the fields!” True. What happens if you offer $20/hour for picking tomatoes?)

    2. Bingo! That is the exact situation I am in right now. Granted I am not in a high-tech city (here because my wife has a great job) but there are tech jobs here and I can’t get one because I don’t have the right initials after my name or the right certification!

  7. How much of this labour shortage is an actual shortage of qualified people, and how much of it is the result of employers having gotten used to being able to offer crappy wages, terrible benefits and little or no PTO, while hiring overqualified people, then working them to the bone and expecting them to be grateful for having a job?

    People were willing put up with that when they don’t have a choice, but when the labour market improves, employers need to think about how to attract and keep good employees.

    Regarding tech in particular, employers may need to develop realistic criteria (no more hiring ‘entry level’ employees with several years of experience, being willing to train people once they hire them), consider offering salaries appropriate to the local COL (and relocation costs, or remote work, if they want to attract talent from other locations), and improving the working environment for people who aren’t young, white bro-dudes.

    1. Ditto, especially the “hiring entry level employees with years of experience.”

    2. Totally agreed with what you were saying until the “young, white bro-dudes” nonsense.

  8. ‘a third have been unable to fill recent openings’

    I bet they’ve tried everything but offering more money to attract people from other fields or other locations.

  9. Great point about gaps in resumes! People have gaps for all kinds of reasons – layoffs, family reasons, medical concern, or even a self-inflicted sabbatical. Hiring managers and recruiters need to STOP passing on candidates solely because of a gap. Many of us work for 40+ years of our lives. I think we all deserve some gaps along the way!

    1. I agree! Although gaps make me a little leery, I always ask the candidate to explain and often the gaps are because they went to school, had a military spouse, stayed home with the kids, etc.

  10. “We are looking for someone who can make a commitment for two to three years. Are you willing to make that commitment?”

    I’ve worked in HR for 30 years and I sure as heck would never say something like that. You just told the candidate they have a job for 2 to 3 years if they’re hired.

    1. Heck, I would never ask a professional, grown adult if they can commit to a specific time frame before being hired. If you explained the nature of the work in your organization and they know their industry, then there’s no reason to even go there. It’s insulting.

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