While the picture is improving, unemployment remains high thanks to changes in the specific skill sets employers need today. The pandemic spurred dramatic shifts in our lifestyles, business practices, and consumer preferences, creating gaps between what organizations need and what candidates have to offer.
As is the case in all economic recoveries, recruiters are on the front lines as companies seek to add professional capacity while hedging their bets. Employers are recovering unevenly, and recruiters need to be agile in adopting new approaches to serve their clients in a truly unprecedented scenario.
To bridge existing talent gaps, recruiters should shift their attention from traditional means of evaluating talent and focus instead on transferrable velocity. “Transferable velocity” refers to both the obvious and non-obvious career momentum of an individual. More than just moving from one rung of the career ladder to the next, transferable velocity is about a person reaching their full potential through rigorous self-starting and self-improvement combined with the talent, know-how, and resources of a hiring organization.
Resumes Are Not the Answer
Resumes track when and where a person has been employed — but not where they are going in their careers. In the current talent market, where employers struggle to find candidates with the skills and work experiences they need, this backward-looking approach falls short. What matters most is not what a candidate has already done but what they could do next.
Recruiters and hiring managers must go beyond the listicle of experience provided by a resume. They must dig deeper to examine how a person’s career to date — measured by their accomplishments regardless of industry — reflects their hardwired skills and potential professional trajectory.
Transferable velocity is about spotting underlying momentum, drive, and effectiveness, which can all be demonstrated by a candidate’s achievements in any field. Likewise, intrinsic motivation can be signaled by a candidate’s self-driven personal or professional development.
Recruiters want to determine whether a given candidate will be successful at whatever they set their mind to. They need to identify a candidate’s raw talent and energy, which — when paired with the right onboarding and training program — will make the candidate thrive in a new role, no matter what it is. That’s the essence of transferable velocity.
How to Discover Transferable Velocity
To gauge transferable velocity for any candidate, recruiters need to consider an individual’s entire story — both where it has been and where it will go next. Proven interview methods like empirical or behavioral questioning can help a recruiter dig into a candidate’s growth in previous positions, but the questions need to go beyond the norm.
By asking only about what a person has done correctly in their past jobs, you won’t get a look at how they will overcome adversity in future roles. You don’t want to just know what a candidate has accomplished — you want to know the how and why behind those accomplishments. The question “What did you accomplish?” is nowhere near as productive as “How did you do it?” These why and how questions also provide insight into whether the candidate has been an active participant in their growth or simply glided on the momentum of others.
As mentioned earlier, transferable velocity is sometimes obvious and sometimes not. Transferable velocity is obvious when it’s easy to see how a candidate could recreate their previous professional successes in a new field or industry. Potential transferable velocity — or non-obvious transferable velocity — goes a little deeper. It looks beyond the professional realm, considering how a candidate’s characteristics and personal achievements outside of work might transfer to a new role.
Generally speaking, there are four main things to focus on when trying to uncover a candidate’s transferable velocity:
- Garnering a deep understanding of the why behind a candidate’s work trajectory to date.
- Learning about the candidate’s capacity to overcome challenges and willingness to fail in order to succeed.
- Identifying a candidate’s personal investments in skill-building and their long-term commitment to learning and development.
- Determining whether the candidate is willing and able to invest in the career trajectory you have to offer.
Evaluating transferable velocity can be tough, as it hinges on a candidate’s willingness to share details from their professional and personal lives. Opening up about past successes and failures is not always easy to do during an interview. Still, bringing these stories to light is the best way to gain insight into a candidate’s innate motivation and momentum.
When the power of transferable velocity is harnessed correctly, it is a true win-win-win. The company wins because it tapped into overlooked talent while its competitors duked it out in the candidate market. The candidate wins because they were able to advance their career and perhaps even shift into an industry or role with greater long-term potential. (During an economic recovery like this one, transferable velocity can help many under- or unemployed candidates finally get back to work.) And if a third-party recruiter made the match, they successfully put a great person in a great role.
Aaron Elder is CEO and cofounder of Crelate.