Recruit Outside the Box: Finding the Talent Others Miss

Posted on September 12, 2017

A short story by Mark Barnard, President, SnapDragon Associates, LLC

You’re ready to hire.  You want to find the best possible match.  After all, hiring can be one of the most crucial investments you can make for your business.

Naturally, you think about the basic requirements for the job.  Ideally, we stray away from hires that will require a lot of training.  We don’t think outside the box because we are naturally risk-averse.  How much time will it take to get a new hire up to speed?  What if they leave after investing time and resources into them?  These are all valid questions; but remember, this is a job seeker’s market.  ADP reports 178,000 new private sector jobs were created last month.  Competition for qualified recruits is cutthroat.

Reservations about hiring outside our comfort zone sometimes prevent us from being truly innovative and we often end up missing out on extraordinary talent.

The Old Way

Job seekers are often told hiring managers “Ctrl +F” resumes. They conduct a quick search to match key words in a candidate’s resume to the job description. This is cringe- worthy and lazy. If the job seeker doesn’t hit a certain number of bullet points, they don’t get an interview.

Job seekers often approach the process this way as well. If a job description looks too out of scope in terms of education, experience level or specific areas of expertise, they probably won’t apply. This attitude towards hiring and job seeking creates unnecessary opportunity costs.

Job fulfillment via job boards is also on the decline. A LinkedIn survey reveals 85% of jobs are filled via networking and recruiting. By simply posting a job description online and quickly filtering through resumes, you are already severely limiting your options.

Hire the Person

The business world is competitive. The companies most handsomely rewarded come up with the best ideas and solutions. In order to be innovative, businesses must recruit a well- rounded and diverse talent pool. When hiring for your next open position, think critically about which skillsets can be taught and the intangibles you really want.

Certainly there are limitations to flexibility when it comes to fundamental technical knowledge or required licenses. However, most companies and job seekers can be more open minded in regards to experience level or industry background when it comes to finding the right fit.

Think about attitude. We want to hire for attitude and train for skill whenever possible. When you hire someone, think about their future within your organization. Do they have leadership skills? Will colleagues and clients love working with them? Are they passionate and driven?

Companies often focus too much on industry fundamentals. In turn, they may sacrifice some of the qualities of a great hire such as work ethic, problem solving skills and leadership abilities.

Broaden the Scope

If you want to hire outside the box, you will need to broaden the job description. List the essentials, but don’t make it so esoteric that it will exclude candidates from other industries. Make sure to prioritize qualitative characteristics that will draw driven people to your company who are willing to learn.

If your company offers training paths to industry certifications or educational reimbursement, make that apparent as well. If a Rockstar candidate is looking to make an industry switch, then they will be more inclined to apply where they will be supported.

Parlay Skillsets

Industry changes are becoming status quo. Career longevity is on the decline and the workforce is more mobile. According to CNN Money, the average worker changes jobs four times by the age of 32. When it comes to hiring millennials, companies must think outside the box.

Abilities and skillsets can translate across job functions. When hiring, think creatively about how one could parlay their experience as a competitive advantage.

For an example, an operations or sales manager from a completely different industry may offer fresh perspective to their new respective roles. Look for lateral moves. As long as the candidate demonstrates passion and a willingness to learn, they often make some of the best hires.

You can also look within your industry at competitors and clients. Hire a contractor with great people skills to sell to other contractors. That person will understand how contractors buy and what gets them excited. For sales roles, candidates with direct experience as a buyer of the commodity they will be selling will automatically be positioned for success.

Be Open with your Recruiter

Recruiters know how to find the best hires. However, they must work within the directions provided by their clients. If you really want to find talent others miss, give your recruiter the freedom to recruit outside the box. Be open to candidates from different industries, backgrounds and experience levels.

The Best-In-Class recruiters know how to source creatively and prudently. Leverage your partnership with your recruiter to deliver the best candidates you may have never found or considered by hiring on your own.