Excerpted from a Journal Review article

Hard-pressed to find dependable, qualified people to fill jobs, many companies are relaxing standards and hiring applicants they would not have considered in the past.

That’s according to findings of a recent national survey of business hiring managers commissioned by Oklahoma City-based Express Employment Professionals.

The survey, conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of the staffing company with more than 850 franchise locations worldwide, found that larger companies especially have been willing to overlook at least some weaknesses of job applicants.

While eliminating barriers to employment may be helpful in pulling some workers off the sidelines in an extremely tight labor market, Express Employment International CEO Bill Stoller said caution should be advised.

“Careful considerations for the safety and health of colleagues must be taken into account when waiving employment requirements,” Stoller said.

The survey of more than 1,000 hiring decision makers was conducted online within the U.S. late last year. It revealed that 39% of respondents had hired someone they probably would not have previously considered. Larger companies were more likely to relax standards: 47% of companies with more than 500 employees reported hiring someone who previously would not have made the cut, while 46% of companies with 100–499 employees and 47% of companies with 50-99 employees did so.

Some 29% of companies with 10-49 employees reported hiring an individual they previously would not have, and 25% of companies with 2-9 employees reported doing so.

Nearly two-thirds of companies that did such hiring – 63% – reported that they overlooked an applicant’s lack of either soft or hard skills, while 45% overlooked an applicant’s ability to pass a background check or drug screening.

Nancy Reed, an Express franchise owner in Texas, said problem solving and critical thinking skills, ability to be a team player, adaptability, flexibility and dependability are highly prized by employers, along with technical skills, but many hirers lately have opted to overlook at least some weaknesses in applicants.

“Businesses are willing and have been overlooking traditional hiring requirements,” she said. “They are having to make critical hiring decisions due to the lack of available workers and growing demands.”

Rather than making hires they normally wouldn’t make, companies might benefit more from making additional investments in their existing staffs, training workers to take on new responsibilities and more rewarding leadership roles, Stoller said.

“With the right investments in training and education, companies can create their qualified workers ready to mentor the next generation,” he said.

Reed agreed.

“Companies are constantly battling high turnover due to market conditions,” she said. “It makes more sense to give an opportunity to a loyal employee and invest in them directly versus hiring someone experienced who will leave for another job. We are seeing businesses investing more in training and are going back to the concept of ‘building your own’ to create a strong workforce from within.”

For the full story, click here.