Back to Newsroom

Avoiding the Talent Coin Toss – Strengths and Early Talent

Dr Alex Linley, CEO, Cappfinity

Avoiding the Talent Coin Toss

Strengths-based recruitment in early talent is a growing trend for very good reason. When hiring people who have just finished school, college or university, there’s every chance candidates don’t have much that differentiates them other than their academic grades, the subjects they studied or the institution they attended.

The problem is that none of these are good predictors for how any of these students would go on to perform in a role with any company that hired them. In fact, in many cases, you could do just as well – or even better – by tossing a coin to determine who you hired rather than depend on their grades, subject choices, or institution heritage. This is one situation where the past isn’t prologue.

Strengths-based recruitment for early talent changes the game. Instead of looking back at grades, subject choices and institutions, you can look forward to ability, fit and potential.

Understanding Strengths and Authenticity

Strengths are defined by the three pillars of performance, energy and use. Performance is about how good you are at doing something; energy is about how you feel when you are doing it; use is about how often you get the chance to do it. Behaviours that you perform well (high performance), enjoy doing (high energy) and demonstrate often (high use) are strengths. These three elements in combination – performance, energy and use – define strengths and make the results of strengths-based recruitment so impactful.

When you do something well, enjoy doing it and do it often, another special thing happens – you feel truly authentic and like you are being your best self, doing what you were born to do. This authenticity is the hallmark of strengths and is what Generation Z is crying out for. ‘We want to be recognised for who we are, we want to be celebrated for what we stand for, we want to be known for something that is true – to us.’

Using our strengths leads to many different benefits, all validated in practice with strengths-based hiring in organisations and by academic research. People who use their strengths more:

  1. Perform better at work (higher performance)
  2. Stay in their roles longer (better retention)
  3. Are more engaged at work (higher engagement)
  4. Serve their customers better (higher customer satisfaction)
  5. Are quicker at learning their jobs (faster time to competence)
  6. Have higher confidence, self-efficacy and self-esteem
  7. Are happier and more fulfilled
  8. And are more resilient and less stressed

Measuring What Matters

Strengths-based recruitment for early talent starts by using success analysis to help you work out the behaviours that people need to demonstrate to be successful in the role. Defining what success looks like for your company, both now and in the future.

When you know what you’re looking for, the best way to assess for those strengths can then be determined. Authenticity is the golden thread that runs through all strengths-based assessment. Using realistic job previews and a variety of innovative assessment techniques, all wrapped up in a brilliant candidate experience that showcases the best of your brand, to identify mutual match. It isn’t gamified assessment that might appear like fun on the surface but has no relevance to the role.

Diversity & Inclusion by Design

When we select early talent based only on their grades achieved, subjects studied, or institution attended, we are almost always, even if unwittingly, introducing systemic bias into our selection. In contrast, when we hire early talent candidates based on their strengths, we are using selection that is consistently bias-free, levelling the playing field for all candidates, irrespective of their gender, sexuality, ethnicity or social background.

Selecting from strengths is naturally bias-free because our strengths are inherent and authentic to who we are, and so less prone to influence from the advantages or otherwise we have had in our lives so far.

We can see this through the lens of some strengths examples. My Work Ethic is not going to be affected according to whether I am male or female. To demonstrate Detail, my sexuality is irrelevant. To use Pride in delivering the quality of my work, it doesn’t matter what ethnic or social background I come from. These examples are borne out from analyses across hundreds of thousands of candidates from multiple companies and sectors. Strengths-based recruitment is naturally bias-free, as the evidence shows consistently.

Better Assessment

By hiring early talent candidates based on their strengths we achieve three big recruiter goals:

  1. Hiring can do-love to people who will perform better, be happier and more engaged at work – a genuine win-win for the company and its people.
  2. Recruiting for ability, fit and potential, not grades, subject or institution. Using an authentic candidate experience that leverages realistic job previews to showcase your company’s differentiated brand.
  3. Delivering diversity and inclusion by design, with strengths-based recruitment being naturally authentic and bias-free across gender, sexuality, ethnicity and social background.

Those are great outcomes for any organisation to achieve and strengths-based recruitment is the way to do so, as many leading companies have found. Join the strengths revolution and start hiring with authenticity.

Start a conversation