WHY I HIRED THE NON-TRADITIONAL CANDIDATE
New Book giveaway!!
20 complimentary copies available.
Leave a comment on this guest post by Dr Dawn Graham, PhD to become eligible to win one of TWENTY complimentary copies of “Switchers: How Smart Professionals Change Careers — and Seize Success.”
*International winners will receive digital versions.
As leaders, we’ve become lazy hirers.
New technology like Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS), one-way video interviews and text recruiting have promised to make the task of hiring new employees faster and more effective, but in many cases has only served to shift our biases to a complex algorithm.
We lean toward the “traditional” applicant because she:
- Understands the industry “lingo” and acronyms
- Knows the key players and how to partner with them
- Recognizes what they’re signing up for
- Can navigate the culture and anticipate the obstacles
- Says all the right things in the interview
- And, can hit the ground running without much hand holding
So why would a Hiring Manager ever take a risk on a career switcher? Here’s why I did.
- She networked and was referred to me by someone I trust. (e.g., she came in already having a strong endorsement).
- She was able to clearly and concretely articulate how her skills and experience would lead to relevant results in the role. (e.g., she effectively re-branded her background)
- She demonstrated commitment to the career switch by participating in industry events and regularly posting content about the field on social media. (e.g., this change wasn’t a “whim”).
- She had been keeping up with the market in anticipation of the job change and brought practical fresh ideas and perspectives to the role. (e.g., she did her homework).
- Her “career story” was genuine, logical and supported by actions (e.g., she had a clear plan for how this career would fit into her longer-term goals).
Not all career switchers will pan out and not all “traditional” candidates will be stellar. However, many hiring managers quickly jump to the “safe” choice, which means you may be missing out on the best choice.
What hiring practices have helped you find the ‘right’ candidates?
More about Dawn:
Dr Dawn Graham, PhD is one of the nation’s leading career coaches. She is the Career Director for the MBA Program for Executives at The Wharton School, where she counsels business leaders on making strategic career choices. A licensed psychologist and former corporate recruiter, she hosts SiriusXM Radio’s popular weekly call-in show Career Talk and is a regular contributor to Forbes.
Excellent post! I really believe in this concept, but I find it very hard to break out of the cycle of hiring traditional applicants instead of those who might not, at first glance, check all the boxes, but who might, in the long run, turn out to be the better hires.
What hiring practices have helped you find the ‘right’ candidates? The best from us is giving paid Internships to college students while their in college and let them learn hands on what their future can be.
The 2nd as you list is word of mouth, referrals from those we trust, has also worked well.
It’s always a good idea to ‘switch things up’ for our teams and ourselves and a great way to keep us all , as leaders, on our toes.
I have started looking at the non traditional candidates when hiring. The industry continues to change and I look for candidates that accept change and adapt. The operations piece can be learned but strong sales and service skills are more often within the personality!
Dan, A hire I made was a non traditional. I found them because they networked to find me. They were doing the tech work because it was fun. They seem interested in growing themselvesx without pushing or prodding. This was one of the best hires I have made so far. I recommend brining in non traditonal candidates. They also add to the diversity of thought- an added bonus to the team productivity.
Very refreshing. I’ve been the non-traditional candidate a few times. Many people can fill their resume with the right key words and are professional interviewees, but that doesn’t make them the right teammate. Glad to see you dug deep to look for the intangibles. We need more of that.
After 19 years in the same firm and now working elsewhere, I’m trying to reshape myself and my thought processes to be that non-traditional candidate for future roles. It involves taking risks and stepping into some fairly unknown territory, but I believe the results will be worth the effort invested.
I have just been hired as what some might say is a non-traditional hire. In this situation I will be working very hard because of the chance my leader took on me. I want to prove them right!
Terrific article! I agree that an applicant from another industry can bring new insights to a position, but I’m not sure that is much consideration for today’s hiring managers unfortunately. Playing it safe seems to win the day most times, at least that is how it appears. I’m fortunate to have hired a manager from another industry once and it was the best decision. The employee brought fresh ideas all of the time, which really challenged the status quo.
I lot of hiring managers that I’ve worked with or coached are looking for the quick fit. Thinking outside of the traditional doesn’t always mean a quick integration into the workload, or at least that’s the managers’ though process. The non-traditional candidate with drive can make a big difference in moving the team from “how we’ve always done it” to innovative solutions.
I think that this is an excellent article that makes perfect sense in the right field. Very technical fields require a number of “checked” boxes in order to ensure that the right skillsets are in place. I do find that the higher up in an organization a person goes, the more translatable those soft skills become.
Thank you for the article and some definite food for thought when it comes to the next round of hiring.
I too have been the non-traditional candidate. I am so grateful to have joined a team from which I learn and am inspired to be better teammate. I plan to keep paying this inspiration forward. Thank you for the encouraging post!
I’ve found the best way to hire is
– don’t arrive with assumptions about any candidate
– let the candidate explain their life to that point, “for about 5 mins tell me about your life and what brought you here today”
– Ask open questions focussed on drive, behaviour, intrinsic motivations
– explore experience but more specifically foundation capability as opposed to traditional skills
– remember you are building a team not a bunch of individuals, it takes a mix of capability and strength to make a champion Team
Too often someone from a non-traditional career path has strengths in areas the traditional candidates lack … which often become the game changing differentiator in the team.
This topic is something that our company has been struggling a lot with lately, very difficult to break the bad habits. Love these posts, always informative.
Keep up the great work.
I find your criteria for evaluating nontraditional prospects valid in any case, even more so for potentially “safe” hires (which in the longer term rarely are, since they rarely are energetically vigilant to innovative opportunities internally … which I’ve always sought).
But I’ve also not availed myself of “hiring managers” – who are rarely leading, but merely sorting. Having said that, I have been surprised on occasion by valued employees being recruited away from our company by top-down hierarchies (presumably for better security/stability/predictability).
Your list is a wonderful self-evaluating tool to measure successful hires after 6 mo. and then yearly ( at min.).
Many thanks for the constructive perspective.
I was fortunate to be hired as the non-traditional choice for my job now. It’s been a great experience however I am ready to move upward in my field and seeking inspiration-this book would be great for me to read 🙂
I have no experience of being non-traditional candidate. But I have seen people who are hired have to work hard then other candidate. Just to prove his interviewer had made the right choice by hiring him. In one sense, its helpful!
Would I work for them?
Do I want a mirror of myself – Yes or No?
Good questions to ask when hiring…
Love the blog
I think this is and immensely appropriate topic for this day and age. How very helpful. It definitely helps change my way of thinking when reviewing applicants
Good morning Dan! Recently our company has been doing internal career switching. Some employees recognize they could use their skills in another discipline and bring new ideas/innovation to the table. Good article, thanks for bring up this topic!
Would love to read this book. I am always looking for ways to get hiring managers to consider someone out of the ordinary realm.
How do you minimize the risk of hiring a non-traditional candidate? Do you on-board them differently? Do you manage them differently? Does this disrupt the culture or workplace? This sounds good in theory, but I wonder how it plays in Peoria.
I have done this as well with great results!
Great article on career switches . I imagine its safer to go the traditional way of recruiting than ‘testing’ because testing is what this is . I will take these steps and use them preparatory to a career switch I have been planning for a while.
We are in a transition time with my husband’s job. It seems like this book would be a great help to us right now..
Hiring non-traditional candidates, or taking the non-traditional route as an employee is difficult and risky for both sides. However, if you go in with a plan and a clear understanding of what your looking for, it can be a great way to breath new life into an organization and career. Dr. Graham’s advice and guidance is excellent. I recently attended a webinar with Dr. Graham, hosted by the team at Weaving Influence. This book will not disappoint.
Traditional candidates have (possibly) learned and maintain bad habits. A non-traditional candidate, but a fast learner with grit can breathe new life into an industry, into a company, and into the “traditional” role. Just because something has always been done one way, does not mean it is the best way.
I know all this – because I am a non-traditional candidate and have embraced every new role I have taken. I learn everything I can, then apply the most logical and streamlined methods of accomplishing the role. Often, this method deviates from the norm in wonderful and innovative ways!
Hiring can be very tough. Someone once told me it is like meeting someone new for an hour and then marrying them. Made me think of alternative ways to look at interviewing.
Another great post! In my company, we have added this focus to our recruiting efforts with great success! Employees from different industries have often added “alternative thinking” to problem solving and fostering new ideas.
I have not been in a position where hiring is one of my duties. However, my opinion on the current trend in finding candidates is that it white washes your hiring pool if that is the only way you look for potential employees. It can also reduce your choices to people who know how to look really good on paper. Gut feeling is a good way to gauge a person in general. Perhaps attending a hiring expo would be a way to get to see some candidates face to face along with their resume.
I love this article because I just transitioned into a new role as a nontraditional candidate. I moved from a role in the military working IT to a junior executive role in education. My leadership team hired me even though I didn’t have the traditional education or industry experience. I did however come highly recommended through a trusted leadership program called the Broad Residency. I had a proven track record in a stressful high demanding environment and I was able to articulate how my past career and experiences could and would translate into success for the new organization. This experience has also shown me the power of networking and branding. I immersed myself in the field by joining social media groups and becoming active in the community that I wanted to join. I also connected with movers and shakers in the field and asked the tough questions.
A view from the other side:
It’s tough as the person who has considered switching careers in the past.
You really have to have your “reasons” nailed down, as you are going to be asked. Saying “I’m just not feeling that my current role fulfills me as much as something else will.” doesn’t seem to be the “smart” answer.
I’ll agree to needing to be able to answer why would I want to work for you, but answering why I want to leave my current role, and not only that, switch careers, is where I’d need the practice. I’ll guess the real answer is in finding the career path I want and then expressing my desire for that new career and not really answering why I want to leave my current career.
As I think and type, that is what politicians do. They get by answering one question by using an answer to a totally different question.
I do like that you mentioned her passion for the new career subject and she was intentionally learning it becasue she wanted to learn it, and not just find a job a in that area.
I think that is huge.
The safe candidate usually keeps your organization within the status quo. This isn’t always bad when you are running a tight ship. If you are looking to shake things up a little, it can be rewarding to hire outside of the box.
Sometimes a non-traditional candidate can bring new life and focus to your team. We lean towards the traditional because it is the path of least resistance however, sometimes it costs us more in the long run. I think maybe a blend would be one of the best scenarios as you have to have someone who understands the industry to train the non-traditional person.
I hired two non-traditional candidates because they clearly articulated why they wanted to come work with my team. They were not just job-switching; they were ready for something different and new and would bring that enthusiasm and excitement to the job.
Great post. My doctoral dissertation was on non-traditional paths to college/university presidents in Michigan. I found that those presidents who came from a different sector had some prior affiliation with the college they came to lead, were committed to the mission of the organization, and had skills that were transferable from one sector to another. The biggest measure of success was how the leader “fit” the organization and its mission. There are a number of ways to find the right candidate, including the use of interview panels and assessments (e.g., KOLBE). I also had one of our staff always give a tour of facilities to candidates and through that process was able to get an “off-the-cuff” read of the candidate through an “informal” dialogue.
I use behavioral interviewing to learn about the candidate, and have less restrictive “minimum mandatory requirements”. For example, I focus less on degrees in a particular discipline.
Hiring is difficult. Thanks for the tips!
Thanks for sharing this post by Dr. Dawn Graham, PhD. I have a background in Sciences and I have been looking for a way to switch to business administration. I execute administrative duties excellently by providing solutions that brings about efficiency and productively in the workplace. I have been out of job for sometime and have challenges getting an interview with recruiters for positions in business administration because of my background in science. This book by our guest today should help me in my decision in making a career change.
Uloma: Good luck in your endeavors, both in getting re-established, and in obtaining a copy of the book.
As someone potentially interested in your skills and disposition, I trust that you have quantified the contributions in efficiency and production and have summarized the contexts for the same….
Would love to see it! (Hypothetically, speaking, of course)
I’ve been the “nontraditional candidate” many times in my career, and am grateful that others saw potential in me and took a leap of faith. What’s on the resume doesn’t tell the entire story; it just gets the conversation started. It’s exciting to discover talent in unexpected places.
I enjoy hiring non-traditional candidates and have been one myself in recent years. I like someone who can articulate how they can apply their problem solving skills, developed in another industry, to the current environment. Dragon slaying is dragon slaying – once you build the muscle, it can be used across industries. It can be a steep learning curve for the new hire, but for someone who thrives on a challenge and is looking to throw themselves into a new industry, it can be mutually rewarding.
I always lean toward the non-traditional person, personality or method as a means of moving forward in any situation. I see so many things in the world today where tradition is getting us nowhere. We need new blood and new ways of looking at things in my opinion. Thanks for the post.
I wish this post would have been a month ago! great post and definitely something I will be more aware of as I hire more in the future.
Applicable skills are no longer the only filter to use when considering a candidate. How well they will fit into our culture and will demonstrate our values are equally important. This is especially important for millennial retention.
We find we are struggling to find non-traditional applicants, when we do find them, its refreshing. Getting out there and searching for them is the tough part, sometimes you only know who you know. Thanks for sharing.
Anecdote from a 2%’er:
Some years ago … at an industry convention … a (gregarious) principal approached me (obviously more socially inhibited – fish out of water), “You look like you are stewing on something … care to share?”
We built a quick rapport as his curiousity was genuine (though his agenda was not clear), and we progressed from general nature of concerns to more and more detail, and open sharing of factual contexts, some more circumstantial, some more strategic. This progressed – within that single conversation, moderately lubricated at the bar – to the point where we had the sense that we may have something (professional) to offer one another … and committed to talk again, after the convention.
Long dialogue made short, we committed to a deal of a type (my proposal) he admitted he could never before have entertained … I would move laterally (pay/bennies), run and expand a division he was not comfortable with (liabilities perceived greater than profit) … demonstrate to him that the profits were underestimated and the risks overstated (w/in 9 mos.) … at the end of which we would take stock and would pay out a bonus equal to my salary, or we would go our separate ways as friends.
He paid out (not w/o resistance) … and that division doubled the cash flow and tripled the profits – co-wide, after the increases in overhead – w/in two years. It also saved his clients a lot of cash (investment groups that had been encouraging him to take on my scope for them).
Pts: The principal reached out personally; saw something he needed balanced rather than evaded; bet on success for ALL parties (win/win/win scenario); bet on someone confident enough on what he needed though I lacked a detailed knowledge of his specialty/expertise/niche.
Filling a position is more about “fit” than “skill”. Leverage “fit” and teach “skill”. I’d rather hire someone who fits into the organization and can be part of the future, than someone who has the skill, but not the organizational fit. Look beyond merely “getting the work done”.
I agree with this but I would put it in a slightly different context: Diversity rules. You can’t hire the same person again and again and again and expect to innovate and move forward. Things like teaming, being able to work together despite different backgrounds is important but getting your team to embrace different ways of thinking is highly valuable! Look at how IDEO innovates products – they get teachers, engineers, artists, etc. all together to innovate. Thank you for sharing!
In the ideal world you have some people on your team who have the experience and inside knowledge that comes from longevity and the non traditional employees who bring new ideas and a different perspective. Then you can have a great conversation about why maybe some things should change or be different.
Safe choice vs best choice. I lLook forward to reading.
Very interesting article. I think its very easy for hiring managers to fall into the trap of ‘traditional’ candidates with ATS being used more frequently to screen applicants. Non-traditional applicants may not check all the requisite boxes when resumes are scanned for certain buzz words, but they may have valuable experience and I think teams can always benefit from the new/fresh perspective that a non-traditional hire can bring.
As someone who has been the non-traditional candidate hired for a role, I have to agree. Some things are nice to have already under your belt, but in the long term, things like lingo are quickly learned, where adaptability and eagerness isn’t something so easily taught. Thanks for this insight!
I love this article. I have seen where we bring in someone with industry experience and try to mold their previous processes to our culture and it normally doesn’t work. I believe that people should be reviewed for their experiences and depending on the position, considered regardless if they have the experience. Unless it is a doctor or lawyer you are looking for, the ones who are not in the industry may actually have some great information and new ideas.
I’m trying to learn to be more flexible in my career mindset and avoid “pigeon-holing” myself. The careers I am involved in have application across a wide spectrum, but sometimes I get focused only on what is directly before me.
Character over competency every time.
This article is so timely and very relevant as many folks are choosing to enter the realm of public education via the “career switcher” route rather than by more traditional ways. I will keep the advice from this post in mind as I continue to interview candidates for various positions in our public high school.
I believe in today’s world with what appears to be shortages of “skilled” staff that one has to go into looking at “non traditionals” for positions. Also with the emphasis on “soft skills” in business. I’ve worked so many different “non traditional” positions that if others had not taken a chance on me it would not have allowed me to show my value. My education and background are something but my experiences thru all those non traditional roles are what has made me more valuable as I’ve aged. Their is no choice these days, take a chance, interview beyond your comfort zone and then go on personality, passion and communication skills. One can always find “people” to deal with “technical” issues (they are all over), its the Soft skills that remain short all over.
It is amazing what diamonds we can find in the rough when we hire for who people are rather than what they say or have done. That being said, hiring managers must be willing to fill in the gaps until they can be filled with training or experiential learning.
This perfectly summarizes what I attempt to balance when hiring–regardless of the candidate’s background or credentials. As a former non-traditional candidate, I was able to leverage many of these tactics to successfully manage my transition, so I can echo the benefit of such an approach. Thanks Dr. Graham!
We hire based on experience and fire based on personality. We should be hiring based on having the right fit, not necessarily soley on experience and knowledge in said industry.
A thought-provoking post! Liked the comparison between hiring candidates using the new technology system & process v/s. traditional format with personal evaluation & reference check. Both are good and have specific advantages.
New technology helps us to save on the recruitment time and cut down on overall costs. Video conferencing is the right tool of evaluation. However, it has its limitations too since we are dependent on electronic media and internet medium. The reception of picture and voice should be of very good type. We miss out on the candidate’s natural reactions, emotions and other gestures while handling various questions. On the other hand, traditional format calls for a personal interview on a one-to-one basis after the careful scrutiny of applications and short-listing of candidates. this is followed by reference checks on phone or by e-mails.
Hiring new potential candidates matching to an organization’s needs and the culture, is crucial and calls for investment of time and money. One needs to use the discretion of using technology in short-listing candidates with pre-decided assessment guidelines/tests is good to save on time but has to have a traditional component of seeing candidates in person for a detailed evaluation. A better negotiation is quite possible thereafter.
A good mix of both formats can be of immense use. HR Head can decide the recruitment system and process depending on the specific needs and hierarchy levels.
Great post! I believe one of the best reasons is to have a fresh set of eyes. I love your content
My best practice is diversity hiring – realizing that diversity means more than gender and ethnicity. I look for someone who can bring different experience and perspectives to our business – who can help us to see what we’ve not seen before. They have to articulate how their experience and insights align with and will help grow our business. Hiring from the same pool gets the same results. I want different results
It is a breakthrough when someone hires the right non conventional candidate and results begin to happened. It is a signal of courage and taken-risk, but it could be real only if candidate is really supported once he/she is hired.
He/She must be oriented, guided and aligned from the beggining. If competencies and skills had been selected according with the position requeriments It is our responsibility to assure our new non conventional candidate will become confident and feel safe in his/ver new role.
I hired non- traditional people for my small business and so far it has been a huge win!
We have had success hiring folks outside of higher education to provide different lenses into our world. We’ve also found that we can get that same type of wisdom from students! Thanks for sharing.
I really enjoyed this post and thought it gave very practical ways to evaluate a non-traditional hire prospect. I have come to the conclusion that I often can train subject matter knowledge, but I it is much harder to train motivation, innovation, or communication. Not all roles are open to that flexibility, but outside people often bring great new ideas to the table based on different perspectives which can be valuable.
Our most successful non-traditional hires were hired for their fit with our culture and values. We find we can teach skills to well referred candidates.
I would love to get a copy, since I also need people to switch.
I hired a non traditional candidate and unfortunately it turned out in the wrong direction. Basically was exactly as your example was except was a very good actor and not really walking the walk. Live and learn! I have learned and look past the initial piece of resume paper and look at the person and how they would fit in with our team. We have the advantage of being able to trial people as volunteers before they even apply for jobs.
Yes! I’m in this process now; moving from higher education to a different industry. I’m learning certain companies – and certain functions- are more open to different professional backgrounds.
Finally, someone has written a book on a such an ignored topic! To have a psychology background and recruiting background is rare and I look forward to reading the book.
I always wondered if people think about hiring the non-traditional person. I have fit that description and 3 times someone actually took a chance on me and it paid off. It is a great business model. For me, if an applicant feels they can do they job, then throw them a bone and give them a shot!
This hit me at the right time. Switching functional areas with in a university can be a career change when others see you only as Your original functional area. The steps highlighted here help me create and be more mindful about how I talk about myself during the switch.
I would like have a copy of the book.
With the new world of diversity and talent coming in all forms, hiring traditions have changed. However, I still tend to look for those who have a stable work history. I believe in career or job changing if necessary, until you are personally satisfied but I never discount loyalty, longevity and experience. Your work history is your validation that your are qualified for a position.
Sometimes the candidate mold has to be broken, and recreated for a new, more flexible cast. And sometimes, too, outsiders are what’s needed for a new, fresh perspective.
After working 30 years in multiple roles of one organization a move required that I consider other career options. It was threatening and challenging and yet has been an amazing capstone to my career. My shift was from the corporate healthcare industry to become a faculty member in a liberal arts university. The learning curve was steep and at times I was nearly convinced I had done the wrong thing – and persisted only with the encouragement of competent others. An unexpected affirmation occurred this past spring when I was selected to receive the University Excellence in Teaching Award – I was stunned and am honored beyond belief….and excited to continue to learn….and teach more.
I wish more employers would break out and hire candidates this way. I am so sick of the SEO’s and the programs that kick out good candidates. As a college student going into HRM I see so many company’s interviewing the “wrong way.” I am so sick of it. I hope to change the way HRM do things in company’s down the road. Thanks for your new book. Your friend, Jackie
One of the best choices I ever made professionally also turned out to be one of the greatest growth experiences I had personally. Saying, “get out of our comfort zones…” is a passionate thought. Actually, moving outside of our comfort zones is the platform for that passion to develop. I am often the non-traditional recruiter and often have the highest performing teams. The formula includes the usual basic ingredients. Then there are a few hidden essentials that can be discovered by creating and allowing for transparency during the essay portion of an application, if available, and followed up on within the interviewing process. Asking and listening for responses that reflect an applicants true ability to adapt, to navigate creatively, to engage others at all levels, to fail and then correct. And, what questions do they ask me? What are their 2, 5 and 10 year goals. Do they know their purpose? If yes, was it articulated? If not, is the position, the team, the tasks within their skill set, AND is there an opportunity to develop them, to plant seed for next seasons and to bring new color to a faded picture. In other words, am I also willing/able to put in the work, the time, and the energy to obtain a sizable investment in the future (I.e. invest in the possibilities of people). There have been a few someone’s who were willing to invest in my skills, transparency and possibilities of the future. As a result whenever plausible I watch for the non-traditional someone’s that will allow for that same principle to be paid forward.
Thank you for this article. I think I’ve been that non-traditional candidate a few times with lateral moves within my organization. One of my positions was a short temp move that lasted at year and half. From my perspective, my leader was extremely supportive and honest with me while I adapted. I found my peers had a difficult time listening to my ideas and often wrote them off. I remember getting a phone call from a peer after a meeting warning me “we just don’t do it that way”. I honestly think they were trying to help me assimilate while at the same time I felt my leader wanted me to be a little disruptive and shake up the status quo. This article provided me a different perspective on the unique challenges I was presented.
At the same time I’ve placed non-traditional candidates into roles before, some with great success, others not so much. The successes though ending up bringing so much to the team it make whatever tough transitions we endured worthwhile and strengthed the team as a whole.
Thank you! I am a starter..was given a chance in my current role a while back as a career switcher, while being referred..made me appreciate the hiring manger that hired me 🙂 once again. (Jan from Slovakia)
What a great and timely topic! Whether or not to hire a non-traditional candidate should depend on the rationale for the position. Positions intended to introduce fresh, innovative thinking could benefit greatly from the diversity of experience and thought that a talented candidate from another vertical or domain might bring. Even then, you have to plan for the time it takes to acclimate to a new industry. It would be well worth the wait. It reminds me of one hiring executive who said, “I knew I needed to hire someone, but I didn’t realize anyone like you was available!” For positions meant to simply maintain the status quo, a traditional hire is probably the safest and wisest move. It ensures a well-indoctrinated new hire and avoids the “resistance” you might encounter from a talented, innovative candidate who would very likely “rock the boat.”
Interesting that both approaches promote the skill of “fitting in,” even if the candidate is being a chameleon but ultimately doesn’t “belong.”
Looks like this would be quite an interesting read, as I’m undergoing a career switch myself. After a good number of years working in the field of accounting, time has come to pursue my interest in maximizing human capital. Not sure what the future holds, but good to know this book is out there as I venture off into the often overlooked area of Human Resources. It really couldn’t have come at a better time.
I completely agree! I believe everyone deserves a chance and needs to start somewhere! Safe can be good, but someone who will come in and make an immediate impact may be best! I think the best organizations have variety within their dynamics and allow for personal strengths and weaknesses working together to make everyone more successful!
As someone who is in mid-career contemplating a switch, this has given me boost of confidence in knowing that this is a feasible option! Thanks!
Sounds like a really interesting book. Fingers crossed. Thanks!
In the past year we have made three non-traditional hires. Each of these individuals has breathed new life into our programs. They have brought a fresh set of eyes and ideas. They also have put in extra effort to learn their new roles, asking questions that needed to be asked, and helped us realize how many things we have been doing because “we’ve always done it that way.” During the interview process, we asked questions that targeted the soft skills. As noted in previous replies, I can teach anyone a process or task but I can’t teach them how to play nice in the sandbox, hold themselves accountable, and be genuinely interested in how they can positively impact the organization and those we serve.
Too often, supervisors are looking short term at how much training they may have to do. Afterall, onboarding properly takes time. When you have been down a person or two for an extended period of time, it can be tempting to only look at people with similar experiences in hopes of finding someone that can “hit the ground running.”
Thanks for bringing the positive side of non-traditional hiring to the conversation!
I havealwaysmade an effort to hire the most qualified candidate who has the skills not only to do well but to learn. It turns out that the non-traditional candidate has always been my hire.
I now find myself the non-traditional candidate and finding it difficult to sell myself.
I am wondering whether there is a “non traditional” out side the box way for someone to sell themselves as a non traditional hire. Would the “let me work for you for 30 days to prove myself” process possibly work? would there be a way in todays employement world to do this (maybe thru a temporary firm placement?). In this way, if the hiring employer had an inclinging that the non traditional candidate might work out they can test said candidate and see if indeed it might work. Maybe even those mentioned above could sell themselves this way, I can come in thru X Temp agency and you can test me? Just an out side the box thought.
Thanks for yet another relevant post! I’m hiring at the moment and couldn’t agree more. You have to look at a variety of factors when looking for best fit and sometimes that person is the one that may seem least likely but who will bring a lot to the team and role.
Great insights! I would love a copy of this book by Dr Graham.
As someone who used to have to hire many of my own people (and in my absence relied on my coworkers), this was insightful for future roles.
What I 100% appreciated and agreed with was 5. Knowing how the role they’re applying to will MATTER to them and their future, to me, translates to the level of dedication they’ll have…how bought in they will be.
In my mind, if they’re just interested for money/something new, they’re only 50% there. If they’re applying because it’s a learning opportunity on their “journey,” and that they recognize the position as a stepping stone in a greater path, then they will give their all.
Don’t look for someone who exactly fits a mold, look for someone with skills to fill in the right parts of the mold, then look at the other things they bring that exists outside of your “requirements” and explore what added value they might bring. If all you look for is someone who meets your expectations, you might miss out on someone who exceeds them.
Very helpful msg
Thank you for meeting the positive side of non-traditional recruitment!
L O V E Dr. Dawn Graham and her career advice over the years has helped me immeasurably. So excited for the new book! Keep spreading the word Dr. Dawn! You rock!!
Great post! I’m working … but after over 20 years in IT … well I really hate it now. Love projects! Love leading people! Finding the non-status quo employer who hire the SAFE candidate all the time is extremely hard to find. Link finding gold. I’m still panning for a better job today …
I meant to say … “Finding the non-status quo employer who will not hire the safe candidate …”