We use cookies to improve your experience. By using our site you are accepting our cookie policy. 
Read our privacy policy to learn more.

Innovation and Best Practice
for Business Success

Established 1967

Go to HR, Organizational Development & Coaching

Open up New Talent Pools with Strengths-based Recruitment

4th July 2016 | Sally Bibb

The Long-term Unemployed are One of the Many Groups Benefitting from SBR

Strengths-Based Recruitment and Development (9780749476977)Despite recent improvements in economies and overall employment rates, many sources report that long-term unemployment remains stubbornly high. 

Long-term unemployment, which is generally defined as exceeding six months, has many causes.  As the employment market changes, people find themselves with skills that are no longer in demand or they simply live in a place with fewer jobs.  Some people, after a bout of unemployment, lose their confidence and find it hard to shine at interview. There are a plethora of other causes also; illness and complex family issues amongst others.

Traditional recruitment places great emphasis on competences and the CV.  The recruiter is looking for evidence that the individual has used certain competencies and, sometimes, that they have done exactly the same job, before.

Traditional recruitment seeks to minimise risk by focusing entirely on the past, and the recent past gets special attention.  As a result, an employment break for whatever reason needs to be explained and justified in detail.  Faced with a number of competent candidates, a recent period of unemployment will be a reason to cut a person out of the short-list. 

Strengths based recruitment (SBR) looks for what people are innately good at, love doing and are energised by. It’s about the will not just the skill.  The emphasis on the CV is reduced and replaced with a focus on the individual, their strengths and where they naturally shine.

Traditional recruitment takes a list of candidates and thins it down one-by-one until there is one left.  Strength based recruitment takes a list of candidates and assesses which one has the strengths best suited to the job and thus stands out from the others.  That is why an issue like a period of unemployment which was used as a reason to reject a candidate traditionally, is so much less of an issue in strengths-based recruitment. The mind-set of the interviewers in strengths-based interviewing is about truly understanding what a person is made of. Discounting a period of unemployment may mean finding a person who is just right for the job and who will be brilliant at it. It’s a much more enlightened approach to talent selection.

SBR opens up new talent pools for organisations that have traditionally struggled to attract people other than those that they’ve always attracted. It’s a major benefit of SBR. In one case study Engaging Minds profiled sales people in a call centre. Attrition rates were very high and lots of people weren’t right for the job. Once Engaging Minds had worked out the strengths of those who loved it and were great at it they encouraged the organisation to try new places to advertise and new methods of attraction. Lo and behold a new group of people saw themselves in the advert – ex-servicemen. Some of them now work in the call centre and love it. All of them said that they never would have thought of applying for such a role. Indeed the company would never have known that this whole new group of people would be so right. It’s a brand new talent pool that is a great fit and that their competitors are not attracting.

Selecting a person who has had been unemployed in the past might seem like a risk.  But the advocates of strength-based recruitment realise only too well that it is less of a risk than recruiting someone who has all the experience but is not a genuinely good fit for the job.  Being capable and adequate isn’t enough in the modern employment arena.

With the change of focus that takes place with strength-based recruitment, we can expect to see some new recruits from the long term unemployed list. Such a person, if they are keen to get themselves out of unemployment, could have the strengths that make them an ideal recruit.  

From a management perspective, the benefits of strength based recruitment cascade through the organisation:

  •    Candidates are more passionate and enthusiastic about their jobs
  •    They are more innovative and creative in the workplace
  •    They are easier to manage
  •    They take less time off sick and go the extra mile in their work
  •    They provide better customer service because they love what they do
  •    The culture improves the more people you have in the team who love their job
  •    The organisation’s performance ultimately benefits at the bottom line.

It’s a common sense approach. Think round pegs in round holes.  It benefits both employees and employers. And don’t underestimate the social and economic benefit to the whole nation of getting some of the long term unemployed back into work!

About the author: Sally Bibb is the Founding Director of Engaging Minds, a company that profiles people’s strengths and helps organisations including the AA, UK NHS, and Starbucks to appoint people into roles that play to their strengths. Her book Strengths-Based Recruitment and Development  is the first book published on the subject. Evidence-based, it includes case studies and interviews with eight executive board-level leaders and six managers who have implemented strengths-based recruitment and development. These provide rare insight into how they implemented strengths approaches in their organizations to improve the bottom line and performance.

 Save 20% when you order Strengths-Based Recruitment and Development with discount code HRSBRB

HR, Organizational Development & Coaching

Kogan Page publishes market-leading books on human resource management, training, learning and development, change management and coaching to help HR managers attract, develop, manage and retain staff effectively.

Go to zone