Recruiters are given a Systems Administrator role to fill. Naturally, they start their Boolean searches for “systems administrator” or “systems AND administration AND networking” for the location the job is in to reach qualified talent. Unfortunately, this can lead to the same candidates you have already reached out to, leaving out a diverse pool of job seekers you may be missing that can get the job done.

Competency mapping

Competency mapping is used to identify specific skills, knowledge, or abilities required to work effectively in a role. Instead of finding people with experience as a Systems Administrator, competency mapping opens the flood gates to candidates that are trying to pivot, have the necessary skills / knowledge through academia, boot camps, or cert training, and have a knack for IT work. Plus, a lot of passion.

1. Develop the Core Competencies

Understand the purpose of the job and what makes an employee successful in completing it. This may help identify existing skill gaps on the team, and develop appropriate training. Next, create your core skillsets (i.e., while the role will manage Windows systems, upgrade, install, and configure application software and computer hardware, candidates must have competencies in problem-solving and communication).

2. Evaluate Competency Levels Required for Position

Should the candidate be beginners that can learn from a current manager, or experts in the competencies? Your hiring managers and leadership teams should decide this.

3. Develop a Competency-Based Position Description

Showing competencies and less daily duties show candidates that you are open to a diverse talent pool and are willing to do on-the-job training so they can build on their skillsets. Sharing a competency-based job requisition with non-profit boot camps will ensure you have a diverse set of candidates that another contractor might miss!

Finding the Right Cleared Talent

The easy route for recruiters to fill a position quickly is to prioritize candidates who have worked previously in the role. This convenience can prevent new diverse candidates from applying in a field where the current candidates are pretty uniform. Experts say that hiring talent based on a competency hiring model allows those coming from assorted backgrounds and experience bring new skills and perspectives to tackle today’s problems with a different eye.

During this time of the Great Resignation, cleared candidates are holding employers to a higher standard – if they weren’t already. And while contractors and agencies are having trouble reaching this small number of talent for the openings they have, it may be time to lower your expectations on experience levels and read between the lines for candidate abilities (or competencies) instead of hiring based on former job titles.

Experience does not always mean future success, which is why recruiters should target the specific competencies their top performers possess, and hire cleared candidates who share these traits. Heck, my best intelligence analysts were a security guard and a former professor. But they both were keen on details and making connections between different points of intelligence.



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Katie Keller is a marketing fanatic that enjoys anything digital, communications, promotions & events. She has 8+ years in the DoD supporting multiple contractors with recruitment strategy, staffing augmentation, marketing, & communications. Favorite type of beer: IPA. Fave hike: the Grouse Grind, Vancouver, BC. Fave social platform: ClearanceJobs! 🇺🇸