Hiring and selection

Open hiring: more opportunities, less chanche of discrimination

Don’t you feel like doing the same job for the rest of your life, but do you find applying for a new job a time-consuming and nerve-racking process? Are you looking for new talent for your team, but have you experienced that expensive assessments do not predict the chance of a good match as well as they should? This year, the municipalities of Ghent and Mechelen have begun experimenting with open hiring.

First come, first served

Open hiring was first conceived in the 1980s at Greyston Bakery, an American producer of brownies and other baked goods. The aim was to play a connecting role within the community and to give equal opportunities to every motived applicant. Instead of having applicants go through an extensive selection procedure or attaching great importance to their level of training and specific experience, application forms were arranged in chronological order: the first applicant got a call. No longer interested? Then it was the next applicant’s turn. This alternative selection procedure has been adopted by a lot of other companies.

Optimistic outlook

Initially, the recruitment concept was mainly popular among employers who idealistically wanted to create employment opportunities for groups who often faced discrimination. But nowadays, in a tighter labour market, it may become more widespread. This strategy constitute evidence of an optimistic outlook, a willingness to invest in opportunities and a rejection of the belief that an employee’s character and qualities can be analysed, objectified and assessed on the basis of a few tests or interviews.

  • The selection costs which employers save through open hiring can be invested in training and coaching of recruits, who are highly motivated to begin employment but are still lacking some technical skills.
  • Open hiring attracts employee profiles who cannot rely on their CV, but just want to show what they have to offer.
  • The first months of employment are a mutual trial period.

The city of Mechelen has developed a platform that has attracted numerous prospective employers who want to give open hiring a chance, ranging from Het Anker Brewery to Absolem, an engineering consultancy firm. It remains to be seen whether we will be hearing of this approach once the coronavirus crisis ends.

Auteur: Lieveke Norga | Foto: iStock