Going beyond the usual qualified pool?

When we talk about the media industry, we are taking into account companies that are involved in the communication of information through various mediums, and of course like any other industry there are job requirements with corresponding qualifications. 

However, what we often miss on during attracting and hiring top talent, is the need to focus on skills sets that they bring to the table. Often, our biases come in the way of hiring candidates who, have followed a non-traditional career path. While one can attribute to the ‘generation of our times’ we should see this as an opportunity to tap into a host of varied skills that they offer. 

Transferrable skills like creativity, teamwork and communication, problem solving and meeting deadlines for instance, are especially important because they apply to a wide range of industries. And it’s up to you as a decision maker to make the connection between those skills and how they can be translated in the work you are hiring for. 

So, what are some aspects to focus on when going beyond the usual qualified pool?

A good cultural fit

Coming to a very important factor in building a strong team at the workplace – a good ‘cultural fit’ is a candidate who can seamlessly integrate within the context and vision of an organisation. They bring in an energy which is in tune with what has already been established at the workplace and are consequently able to work well with the team and understand the habits of colleagues and the work culture of the organisation in general. On the flip side, a wrong fit can can be detrimental to how a team functions. To assess whether the person you are interviewing is a fit for your company, focus more on the questions they have to ask, rather than just the answers they give. These questions can give you an insight into their ambitions, motivations, and what matters to them on a daily basis as well as in the long run. 

Making interviews insightful

Asking off-beat, mind boggling questions has been a practice at top global companies for quite some time now. But the need is to focus on having a conversation that is purposeful and which reveals information that is meaningful. Working a media job, one faces fast-paced, high pressure situations on a regular basis. To size up candidates, ask them about similar situations they have faced before. The answer would help you gauge their attitude, adaptability and also give you an inkling as to how they would fare if they are put through the same if they join your company.

Aptitude matters

More often than not we come across a candidate who has neither the qualification nor any relevant work experiences to back them up. For candidates like these, ask them about any personal work samples or independent projects that they have done. If your company has budget constraints, take the case of fresh graduates or even interns who rack up enough confidence and enthusiasm in their interview and who show a predisposition as well as passion towards their craft. 

While degrees and academic qualifications have their place, they shouldn’t be the only key parameters to judge a candidate. More and more, media companies need to gradually do away with the arbitrary requirement of a particular degree when applying for a position and instead seek candidates with the right aptitude. 

For instance, a candidate without a degree or qualification but a host of personal travel experiences can work well as a consultant or a contributor on a travel show.  On the other hand, someone with a qualification but from a different background such as journalism, can absorb the nuances of a marketing profile by utilising their communication skills, both written and verbal. It’s about identifying the skills that a candidate possesses already and understanding how those can be put to use in the context of your company.

There has been enough research to support the fact that diversity leads to creativity. And by diversifying the talent pool, we open doors to the possibility of ground-breaking, extraordinary work being put out in the world. The qualified talent is aplenty, but if you are to stand out as a company in terms of work and work culture, be open to going beyond the qualified candidate. An industry as dynamic as the realm of media demands a more robust and subjective hiring process that doesn’t always align with the conventional, and in the process, sets a benchmark for other industries to follow. Take a leap of faith. You’ll either end up with a great candidate or a great lesson! Either way, the organisation grows.  

Asif Upadhye on Twitter
Asif Upadhye
Director at SPRD
Asif Upadhye, Director, SPRD | Stories.PR.Digital, a new-age Public Relations think tank backed by ideators, wordsmiths and design junkies focussed on delivering bespoke services. He sees SPRD as a Digital First Communications agency that partners with Public Relations & Corporate Communications teams to spread the good word!

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