Adapting to the New Candidate Market Dont be a Box Checker!

Over the last decade, the need to check every “Required Qualifications” box dominated the job market at large; however, along came a pandemic to halt all aspects of life. Consequently, there was also a reboot, not just within the economy, but within ourselves. Priorities changed, comfort zones changed, and for many, values and perspectives also changed. Numerous industry sectors lost seasoned workers, such as retail, hospitality, and human services to professional services and the information sector.

How did this happen?

Post-pandemic, many organizations began looking outside the BOXES that they set. With Boston currently maintaining a 2.7% unemployment rate and the US experiencing the lowest unemployment rate since May 1969 at 3.4% – rigidity just won’t work. Candidates and organizations alike should certainly continue to assess hard and soft skills, but the focus should not be on the context. The question for each is: “What is it that you have done, can do, and how can it adapt to a particular role within a different realm?”

What can you do?

Candidates – have an honest assessment of your skills before applying! If you can’t articulate your abilities in a cover letter when applying for a position, then it’s a no-go. Lying is a BIG no-go, which includes fudging the truth; it’s considered fraud. While StandOutCV reports 55% of Americans do so, they also reported 70% were caught in their lie. Don’t be that person! Rather, be honest with yourself first because then, you can advocate for your skill set AND feel more confident performing once the role is yours.

Organizations – tough market, huh? Many organizations are experiencing difficulty finding quality talent that is committed; however, box-checking compounds this difficulty as organizations are vying for the same talent checking the same boxes. With 53% of hiring managers now waiving the post-secondary degree requirement according to, the need to expand the candidate pool is being realized. In fact, 59% of them appreciate that skills can be acquired outside of the coveted four-year degree. This isn’t to devalue higher education; rather, it is to argue that viable candidates without a degree aren’t lacking ability. They’re lacking opportunity, so open the door, and if you’re hesitant, explore providing temporary to direct-hire opportunities.

Adapting to the New Candidate Market Dont be a Box Checker! (1)

In October 2022, a restaurant manager called an employment agency in Downtown Boston asking for help on how to transfer from one industry to another. That manager is now a Staffing Consultant at JOHNLEONARD – me. Jumping into a completely different career can be stressful and nerve-wracking but it is also super exciting and very rewarding!


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