You Have the Right NOT to Hire the Most Qualified Candidate

Posted on May 1, 2017


Apart from the Atlanta Braves, what employer wouldn’t want to hire the most qualified candidate?  Who wants to settle for second or third best?  Why take someone who might not be the very best available?

I recently heard an answer to that question. Sitting at a luncheon at the Hilton Atlanta Northeast, the statement struck me with joyful clarity. I had never thought of it that way. Thanks Dion!

One of the panelists, Dion Kohler of Jackson Lewis P.C., was selected to provide expert legal assessments of hiring practices. It wasn’t just his deep bass voice that brought us to the rapt attention garnered by the E.F. Huttons of the world, but his experience and knowledge of employment law. He said:

“You—the employer—have the right NOT to hire the most qualified job candidate.”

Hiring Well, Doing Good

“Hiring” was being discussed on this spring day in Atlanta. Presented by the Georgia Center for Opportunity in partnership with the Southwest Gwinnett Chamber, more than

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Dion Kohler

one hundred Human Resources professionals and business leaders gathered for Hiring Well, Doing Good. The focus was on why and how employers could look outside the typical sources for job candidates to consider hiring those who may find it most difficult to find work. These underemployed could be military personnel returning home, citizens re-entering society after incarceration, people with disabilities, or sex-trafficking survivors.

The Business Case

While promoting compassionate hiring practices, the panelist shared how sourcing job candidates outside of typical channels can be good for business. One of the panelists, Alex Bardi, CEO and founder of Bardi Heating, Cooling and Plumbing, shared the business case for hiring those with a challenging past. Joining him at the luncheon was one of his employees, whose story was featured in a video produced by the Norcross Cooperative Ministry and shown prior to the panel discussion. Bardi explained how, through a partnership with the co-op, he found a reliable, trustworthy, and productive employee. For Bardi, this was not just giving a hand up, but finding a viable alternative to the typical hiring routes.

Financial incentives also bolster the business case. Work Opportunity Tax Credits (WOTC) — federal tax credits awarded to Georgia companies that hire individuals who have consistently faced significant barriers to employees — provide employers tax credits ranging from $1,200 to $9,600 per qualified employee.

Employers who fear that compassionate hiring practices will hurt the bottom line often find just the opposite to be true. Not only are there tax incentives, but having hiring practices that evidence a heart for the community can provide viable job candidates, bolster social corporate responsibility initiatives, and enhance the brand of the employer. Employee engagement is enhanced as employees rally around the mission of the employer who is making a difference in the community. Doing Good in hiring bolsters the bottom line.

Using Talent Acquisition for Good

In Bardi’s case, a very qualified candidate was hired. Yet, some employers can choose not to hire the most qualified candidate when they see talent acquisition as a channel for

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Alex Bardi

lending a helping hand to those who may need it most. In such cases, they Do Good while Hiring Well.

Without discriminating against a candidate based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin, employers can make a deliberate choice not to hire the most qualified out of the gate. Instead, employers have every right to use their hiring practices to facilitate economic growth for a community or assist an individual desiring to make a new start in life.

They are Making it Work

Bardi is just one example among many in Atlanta who are making this happen. A professional services firm in Midtown recently sourced a new employee through Randstad USA and Wellspring Living to hire a sex-trafficking survivor. Numerous for-profit companies partner with Goodwill to provide jobs for those who otherwise would find it nearly impossible to find meaningful work. NAPA Auto Centers has teamed up with City of Refuge to provide job training and employment in auto maintenance in one of Atlanta’s poorest zip codes. Other organizations reach out to veterans who are seeking to not only reenter civilian society but also find meaningful employment using the skills obtained in the military. Programs such as Westside Works have corporate partners (such as the Arthur M. Blank Foundation) to create employment opportunities for communities with high unemployment. Organizations like Georgia Calls state they are “committed to helping formerly incarcerated and state supervised individuals develop critical job and life skills while providing much-needed work opportunities.” Community-based companies such as WellStar warehouse, Kroger, and Owens & Minor partner with Nobis Works to assist individuals with all type of disabilities to enter or return to the employment.

Employers are making it happen. All across Atlanta, the country and the world they are adopting hiring practices for the good of those who need a little extra help. Is it time your organization becomes one of them too?