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Monday, May 3, 2010

Use of Assessments on the Rise: A Bellwether of Economic Conditions

The use of assessments for very specific purposes seems to be increasing — and that could be a lead indicator of economic improvement, especially if some of those industries occupy a position closer to the front of the supply chain.

Generally, assessment usage is a bellwether of economic conditions. When companies are hiring, they have more of a need for these evaluations. What we’ve noticed is an increase in the use of assessments both for bringing new employees on board, as well as for targeted leader acceleration — a way to predict which employees to invest in going forward.

At the same time, it’s not business as usual, indicating that economic recovery is not likely to be widespread anytime soon. Many companies are looking for either new employees to hire or current employees to develop and promote who possess very specific skill sets — “needles in haystacks”, so to speak. And the right assessments help employers identify the overabundance of less-qualified candidates quickly so they can zero in on those people with hard-to-find characteristics and high demand skills sets.

But, using assessments in this manner requires forethought. Success requires a thorough understanding of a variety of factors, including the skills and beahavioral traits the job requires, as well as the cultural fit between job candidate and organization. Additionally, companies need to determine not just what they need — but how to recognize the most appropriate candidate for the position.

Wise organizations have learned to focus on the future. Companies should make sure that assessments are targeted at longer-term, not just current, needs. What’s more, to maximize effectiveness, they need to integrate as much assessment data — both organizational and individual — as possible.

All indications are that certain industries are beginning to look for the skilled talent they need to fuel brighter economic conditions ahead, but doing so in a much smarter way this time around.

Remember: Used correctly, assessments can help companies tackle the challenges they face now — and prepare for those they’ll have to address in the future.

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