One Acre Fund was founded in 2006 with the goal of reducing hunger and poverty in remote areas of Africa. The farming non-profit offers smallholder farmers access to financing, training, high-quality seeds and fertilizer, and market sales support. With those things, they can increase crop yields, feed themselves and their neighbors, and attain a measure of prosperity.
One Acre Fund started in Kenya with 38 farmers but now serves over 1 million farm families in Burundi, Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda. The organization has well over 7,000 employees in field and administrative roles.
One Acre Fund’s Challenge
As a startup, One Acre Fund relied heavily on U.S.-based or international hires. But helping rural farmers requires candidates who have a deeper contextual connection with the customers they serve. The organization needed to hire locally to build the kinds of relationships they sought.
However, the hiring team was struggling to attract qualified candidate pools from the local job markets. An analysis by TapRecruit revealed two things:
- Inconsistency across job descriptions was an issue, but
- Overqualification of jobs was the main issue.
“Some of our roles on LinkedIn would get views but not a lot of applications. Or we’d get applications from people applying for positions they didn’t qualify for,” said One Acre Fund Recruitment Sourcing and Outreach Associate Emilie Umuhire. “So we started thinking about job descriptions, that maybe the messaging we were putting out there wasn’t as clear as we wanted it to be.”
An overqualified role is one where the requirements restrict the candidate pool. They can include overly specific industry experience, unnecessary education, or unusual combinations of required skill-sets that cross over professions.
Overqualification can happen when hiring teams aren’t familiar with what skills are typical for a particular job market. Or when the team can’t form a consensus around key requirements and opts to include them all. It can happen when recruiters attempt to signal growth potential to job seekers through the requirements. Or if the hiring team is getting too many unqualified applicants and thinks overqualifying roles will attract higher-quality candidates.
Extra requirements were diminishing the candidate pool
TapRecruit’s analysis revealed that One Acre Fund had double the typical rate of overqualified roles. (It was particularly problematic for senior roles.) The hiring team says that, at the time, they didn’t understand how extra requirements could hamper their recruiting efforts.
“We thought the more we explained what we were looking for, the clearer the role would be,” said One Acre Fund Talent Acquisition Manager Audrey Bolo. “But we didn’t realize we were actually turning away certain candidates.”
The types of overqualification that the TapRecruit team saw in One Acre Fund’s data:
- Overly specific experience (e.g., experience analyzing rural agricultural surveys in a junior job),
- Technical skills that cross multiple professions (e.g., knowledge of Excel, HTML, and accounting principles), and
- Preferred qualifications (e.g., industry-specific experience for a generalized role).
“We are really moving to a world that is data-driven,” said Emilie. “TapRecruit isn’t just making assumptions; it’s not just making suggestions. The data will inform how you write better job descriptions. For me, it’s been really impressive to see numbers translated into what a good job description looks like.”
One Acre Fund’s hiring team wanted to do two things with TapRecruit:
Write more consistent job descriptions across the entire organization, and
Reduce overqualification to attract more local talent (East, South, and West African) and improve the diversity of their candidate pools.
One Acre Fund’s high-scoring jobs attract almost twice as many candidates.
One Acre Fund is attracting more applicants
Since getting onto the platform, One Acre Fund’s hiring managers have edited hundreds of jobs, doubling their average score in TapRecruit. Higher scores are associated with better outcomes for One Acre Fund’s jobs.
One Acre Fund’s high-scoring jobs attract double the number of qualified applicants.
One Acre Fund is attracting more qualified applicants
Attracting more applicants is great, but attracting qualified applicants is better. More qualified candidates means less time sifting through applications from candidates who aren’t qualified.
More qualified, diverse candidate pools
Addressing overqualified jobs has improved the overall quality and diversity of One Acre Fund’s candidate pools. Roles that now have on-market qualifications are outperforming overqualified jobs significantly.
One Acre Fund’s roles with on-market qualifications are attracting more applicants overall.
One Acre Fund’s roles with on-market qualifications are also attracting more qualified applicants.
One Acre Fund’s overqualified roles were attracting significantly fewer applications and fewer qualified candidates than they should. They were also resulting in longer time-to-fill and more ‘failed’ job searches (i.e., no hire). Addressing overqualification naturally translated into more qualified final candidate pools.
It’s also possible that One Acre Fund’s overqualified jobs were resulting in a confidence gap, which can diminish the diversity of a candidate pool. (Recruiters may be familiar with this statistic: men tend to apply to jobs when they feel 60% qualified, while women only apply when they feel 100% qualified.)
One Acre Fund’s roles with on-market qualifications are attracting more female applicants overall.
One Acre Fund’s roles with on-market qualifications are also attracting more qualified female applicants.
One Acre Fund’s improved job descriptions have impact
The One Acre Fund hiring team wanted to attract more local talent, and they’re doing just that. The team is now matching their job descriptions to local talent markets with TapRecruit’s help, in particular by addressing overqualification.
Consistency in job content has increased, including standard content like perks, benefits, and diversity and inclusion statements. Also, recruiters are spending less time standardizing their job descriptions.
“I’d just like to say how amazing the platform has been,” said Emilie. “We decided to make using TapRecruit to write or edit job descriptions mandatory for all hiring managers. Currently at One Acre Fund, every job description has to be retained in TapRecruit.”
One Acre Fund’s roles with on-market qualifications now attract more candidates overall, more qualified candidates, more female candidates, and more qualified female candidates than overqualified roles. They also have shorter time-to-fill and result in fewer no-hires.
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