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Hiring an Unconventional Candidate

The last couple of years has not only changed the way we work, but the way we hire. Employers must adjust to how they recruit against a backdrop of skills-shortages and shifting market priorities. As we navigate the emerging economic impacts of the pandemic, the most agile companies are considering alternative approaches to sharpen their competitive edge. One option that holds value is the hiring of candidates you may consider 'unconventional' when considered against old practice.

An unconventional candidate is one who may not fit the traditional job mould. They are typically overlooked because their profile doesn't align to a long established ideal. Yet, unconventional candidates may very well have the right skills for the job if not specific sector experience, so it's up to hiring managers to challenge their default expectations to make a stellar, if unexpected appointment.

This is where an Executive Search company like Goodson Thomas can add value to your recruitment strategy, due to our expertise in gleaning the potential of atypical candidates. We have a track record in introducing alternative candidates to our clients, and can speak to the following key benefits of making an 'unconventional' hire:

1. They have transferable skills

Candidates following an unconventional career path have likely developed transferable skills that are just as relevant to one field as they are to another. As the nature of work changes, companies must look beyond traditional qualifications, awards, and trajectories.

Candidates with unconventional career paths should be seen as assets. They are generally more open to change and will have honed and adapted their approach within different organisational cultures. As such, they'll likely have sought-after 'soft skills' such as communication, organisation, problem-solving and project leadership, which are vital for successful delivery.

Technical knowledge can be learned far quicker than experience can be gained.

2. It drives diversity

Seeking unconventional candidates with a diversity of experiences can be a dynamic way of improving workforce diversity. Unconventional career paths are sometimes a product of underrepresented groups not having access to distinguished schools and training programmes, so they instead have acquired professional experience and knowledge on the job.

Unconventional candidates offer a wide range of perspectives and insight, which can act as a catalyst for innovation. By giving unconventional candidates due consideration in the hiring process, you'll open your organisation up to a talent pool that's rich and broad in diversity, and all the associated benefits that brings.

Employees with atypical backgrounds can take a multilateral approach to a situation and contribute to areas that go beyond the scope of their remit. The more diverse your team is, the better the chance that they'll come up with unexpected ideas and offer up solutions to problems you weren't even aware of, and the more representative they are of your customer and client base.

3. Create better connections with customers

Your customers are diverse, which is reason enough why your workforce should be as well. A candidate who doesn't have the 'right' qualifications but does have the professional experience in another position could very well be perfectly positioned to relate to customer pain points due to their practical, first-hand experience.

Also, candidates who have taken career breaks shouldn't be dismissed. They could provide your company with a competitive edge if they've spent time in the places where your customers are, and they may also speak a foreign language too. This would be advantageous to a multinational company with a diverse customer base. They are also likely to be more in touch with their own wellbeing, which is vital to maintaining high quality outputs.

4. Reduce expenditure and boost profits

The ideal candidate is highly sought after, which could end up costing your company money during salary negotiations in an attempt to out-compete other offers. Being less restrictive about specific qualifications and credentials widens the talent pool to people who may lack the typical qualifications but make up for it with the skills and the drive to perform successfully, and it will likely cost you less to hire them than the perfect candidate, who doesn't exist anyway.

The safe choice may mean you miss the best choice

It's understandable not to want to gamble on someone out of left field. However, taking a chance on a different profile with less than the required technical expertise could well be a risk worth taking. The chances are that it will broaden your company's outlook.

Remember, a diverse workforce performs better, is more innovative, and generates a larger revenue.

Based in South Wales, Goodson Thomas is an Executive Search Agency that places quality candidates in top-level positions. If you want further advice or support on sourcing unconventional candidates, contact us here.


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