‘Mindsets’ over paper qualifications –

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Singapore’s hiring and recruitment experts are taking a new direction.

Job candidates today are no longer assessed based on their performance in a national school exam, but their individual talent, recent experiences, and aspirations. They are now appraised on whether or not they display an entrepreneurial spirit, people skills and ability to understand the objectives behind the task and tackle problems with a solution-driven mindset, and these benchmarks are now given more weight than their paper qualifications.

Academic qualifications no longer the emphasis

Innovation startup Padang & Co does not place emphasis on academic qualifications when hiring.

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CEO Derrick Chiang said he never lists academic qualifications required for job openings at his company. He interviews university graduates as well as candidates with polytechnic education for the same job opening.

“I honestly have never thought of even asking for those (paper qualifications),” he said. “We don’t even bother with the transcripts of even tertiary education; just the certificate for the record.”

None of his staff have been hired “solely on paper qualifications” as “hardly anyone goes to school to study innovation”, as he explained his company’s focus on innovation.

The first statement he says during an interview is “tell me your story,” that way, he can evaluate the candidate’s skills and knowledge gathered from their studies and work experience.

He added that the 20 people in his team all “come from different educational, personal and professional backgrounds” and that this diversity is the company’s strength.

While there have been instances where those hired end up being a bad fit, he has never blamed them for paper qualifications or the lack of it, said Mr Chiang.

Instead, he puts it down to a cultural mismatch, or that those hired found the job roles did not meet their expectations.

School grades not the only gauge

There are gains in appraising job aspirants not just on academic qualifications, said recruitment experts.

“They may be hiring a candidate who would be a better fit to the workplace culture and have a greater learning potential, such as finding new and creative ways to improve processes or customer experience,” said Randstad Singapore’s associate director of human resources Martin Hill.

The overemphasis on grades was touched on by Education Minister Ong Ye Kung in a recent episode of Talking Point, a CNA current affairs programme.

He said while it is “reasonable to ask for qualifications”, companies should not be listing down minimum grades for individual subjects unless the job requires particular subject knowledge.

Recruitment experts agree saying that while academic transcripts can be a useful gauge, they cannot be the sole hiring factor for companies.

“Academic transcripts indicate the intellectual aptitude of an applicant. They are also reflective of the individual’s diligence, research ability, critical and analytical skills, and project management skills,” said managing director of recruitment specialists Robert Half Singapore Matthieu Imbert-Bouchard.

But he added that “theoretical knowledge is rarely a substitute for practical experience”, and “does not reflect a candidate’s passion, their growth potential, or their cultural alignment with the company.”

“Particularly as industries undergo massive digital transformation, companies will look to complement their automated processes with employees who offer a depth of human insight and soft skills which an academic transcript cannot necessarily capture,” he said. -/TISG

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