Insert Perfect Candidate Here

No matter the experience level or salary number, when an employee decides to leave his or her organization, employers pay the price, quite literally. The turnover rate in the U.S. costs businesses $11 billion each year, according to TTI Success Insights. Burdened by both direct and indirect costs, it’s no wonder why they take extreme measures of caution when it comes to their internal and external hiring and development.



In an effort to reduce turnover, employers have shifted their focus on the “plug and play” candidate – an already groomed worker with the education, experience, and skills to jump right into high gear. This common hiring tactic gained strides post-recession, when the luxury of investing in the training and development of personnel was no longer a viable option. Businesses began searching for the self-directed candidate who could hit the ground running and immediately impact its growth and revenue goals with minimal handholding. And as a recruiter, I can testify firsthand that because these “plug and play” candidates are in such high demand, they secure roles quickly and historically don’t extend their unemployment benefits – another perk employers are attracted to.

Anyone can become a “plug and play” candidate. The trick is to keep your skills current and commit to constant education and self-training, whether it’s learning a new software on your off-time or simply perusing LinkedIn to follow leaders in your industry. Understanding skills in high demand related to your desired role is critical to maintaining a competitive edge in today’s job market. Here are some examples of individuals who upped their game and earned themselves “plug and play” status.



Joe, Information Technology. Joe had a strong background as an IT Business Support Specialist. However, his skills lay primarily in AS400 (a scripting language for the IBM midrange platform), but while searching for his next role, he found that job descriptions in his field demanded extensive knowledge of SAP or Oracle. On his own time using Skillsoft, Joe took an online course to learn the two software programs, which gave him the skills he needed to land a gig.

Beth, Engineering. She was a Design Engineer hoping to transition into project engineering. To prepare for her career change, Beth did her homework and found Project Management Institute, a top-notch online certification program and began training. Although she had not yet completed her online training, she successfully secured a new role in her field. Sometimes, taking the initiative is enough to win employers over.

Tom, Accounting. Eager for more leadership experience, Tom was looking for a management position. Although he had a strong background in accounting, he had only managed one employee. Tom found a coach to teach him leadership skills and invested in an online career assessment to gain a better understanding of his workflow, management, communication styles.

Susan, Human Resources. Susan, who already earned a bachelor’s degree in business, was aiming to enhance her human resources knowledge and credibility without investing in another 2-4 years of school. She decided to improve her candidacy by obtaining a PHR and joined many online organizations, such as Society for Human Resources Management. She also has plans to become certified in workplace assessments.

Matt, Social Media & Marketing. Although he had a bachelor’s degree in communication, his skills needed some polishing in order for him to become employer-ready. Matt became well versed in the unique business advantages offered by all social media channels. To better his writing technique, he enrolled in Content ETC and utilized Hurley Write Inc. Writing skills are always in high demand, no matter the occupation.

Alice, Operations. A more seasoned professional who thrived at a time when faxing was considered cutting edge communication, Alice’s skills were just plain outdated. To make up for lost time, she used the business system training modules on Microsoft Office online to enhance her computer skills. I also recommend checking out the training centers offered by the Department of Labor – after all, they’re free.

We live in the age of digital technology, which means educational resources are at your fingertips. No matter your occupation, experience level, or age, you can become a “plug and play” candidate with e-learning – from webinars and teleseminars to online training courses and noteworthy associations. Think of it this way: the bigger the burden you take off an employer’s shoulders, the more likely you’ll land that dream job.

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Career Reform ReportsBefore you become a “plug and play” candidate, you must first assess your career situation. At Career Reform, we’ve narrowed it down to three categories. Get good career guidance that matches your unique goals with our free Career Reform Reports. 

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