To fill job vacancies in a post-pandemic economy, employers are having to expand their talent pools to encompass nontraditional candidates. But exactly how do you engage and recruit these new types of candidates? After all, they don’t fit the traditional expectations of the “right person for the job,” and may not even be considering applying for the position.
Focus on Candidates Who Understand the Brand
One way to find who you are looking for in an expanded talent pool is to seek out someone who is connected to and understands your brand. That means you’ll need to look past technical skills listed on resumes by candidates possessing a wide array of skills and experiences.
“A person can be trained on technical skills, but culture fit is untrainable,” says Carrie Browde, certification community and benefits at Google. Browde was hired as a receptionist at software company Looker after getting a degree in literature and working for a children’s entertainment company. Her customer-facing experience at the entertainment company prepared her for the role at Looker. “Give more weight to someone who is on brand, who gets your message, who wants to work for you and not your competitor,” she advises.
Take a Nontraditional Approach to the Interview
Looking past the resume applies to the interview as well. Nontraditional candidates require a nontraditional approach to the interview in which hiring managers focus less on what they have done in their careers so far and more on who they are as a person.
Unusual questions challenge candidates “to demonstrate quick thinking, poise, creativity, and even a sense of humor,” says Lynne Sarikas, retired senior director of the Graduate Career Center at Northeastern University.
Ask questions that require candidates to speak to how they would approach the new position and how they think their skills would transfer to the role. Get creative with questions to measure their thought processes.
Assign a Project to Assess Abilities
That’s not to say skills aren’t important, but not all candidates’ resumes are going to speak to the skills traditionally needed in the position. So, assign a project for them to complete as part of the recruiting process. Create a real-world problem the candidate may face in the position that has multiple approaches as a solution.
In doing so, you test their critical thinking and problem-solving abilities to gauge their fit for the position. Making it a competition against other candidates also allows you to assess their motivation and work ethic. While you want them to solve the problem, finding the solution is less important than how they got there, which gives you the most insight into their character and abilities.
Listen to What the Candidate Isn’t Saying
When assessing an unconventional candidate’s qualifications for a position, what can you learn about them that isn’t explicitly mentioned in the resume or interview? To really understand the skills they possess and how they would fit in a role, read between the lines of the things you know, and connect the candidates’ experiences, knowledge, and skills to job attributes.
For example, good leaders share the spotlight of accomplishments with their teams. As you ask for more details on a project win, is the candidate presenting it as a solo effort or are they focusing on the team’s efforts? The way they respond tells you more about the candidate than what they say and what is written on the resume.
You should know what attributes will define success in the role, so look for examples of candidates demonstrating those attributes. With nontraditional candidates, you have to look past the job applicant to the person to ascertain their fit for not only the position but also your company.
Use Personality Assessments to Gain Insights
Personality assessments are a great tool for gaining deeper insights into candidates who you wouldn’t traditionally choose for a role but who are in your pipeline. Through these assessments you gain a better understanding of who candidates are and if they would be a fit for the position.
Personality assessments give “fabulous insights into character and preferences – showing how someone is likely to respond in any given circumstance,” says Karen Gately, founder of human performance consultancy Corporate Dojo. That’s useful information about a candidate whose technical skills may not align with a role but whose soft skills and personality might indicate potential for success.
Expanding your talent pool to include nontraditional candidates is critical to finding the talent you need in the highly-competitive, post-COVID economic rebound. Fitting the right unconventional candidate to the jobs you need filled will require a slightly different approach to recruiting, interviewing, and hiring. Following these tips can help hiring managers choose the right candidates.
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