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Open the Door to New Talent with These Unconventional Candidates

Here’s a familiar story: Business is booming, and it’s time to add a new member to the team. You want to find someone who has the right experience, is a leader and wants to grow within your organization. But amid a tapped-out talent pool and stiff market competition, you’re struggling to find the right fit.

There has to be a better way to approach this — right? In fact, there is. Changing just two words in your vernacular can shift your entire recruitment strategy, helping you beat the competition and win the best talent. By swapping the “years of experience” requirement for “level of expertise,” you’ll open doors to talent you might never have considered before. 

Swapping out a word is easy enough — but while “years of experience” is quantifiable, “level of expertise” is qualitative. To gauge this requirement, the trick is to find expertise that isn’t gained through traditional experience. 

In this post, we’ll look at four personas of unconventional candidates, address common misperceptions and offer sample screening questions to ensure they have the expertise and attitude you need.   

Persona #1: Solopreneurs 

Whether you call them “freelancers,” “consultants” or “small-business owners,” solopreneurs have been toughing it out on their own. Many times, these unconventional candidates produce amazing output. They’re just tired of the constant cycle of new business development and chasing down invoices and want to go back in-house.  

Why they’re a great asset:

  • They’re independent, self-starting workers. 
  • They understand the bigger picture.
  • They offer insight into the competitive marketplace.

Common misperception:

  • They can’t handle a structured working environment.

Sample screening questions:

  • How do you currently structure your day?
  • What are you hoping to leave behind in your current work situation?  
  • What do you like about your current situation?

Persona #2: Industry Shifters 

These unconventional candidates started a career in one field, then realized they needed a change. They may come from companies that have the same client base as yours but aren’t direct competitors. Other common sources include academia, the government or the military.  

Here’s an example: I recently placed a paid search specialist at an ad agency. She was working toward her master’s degree in economics when she realized she didn’t want to be a professor; her true passion was data analytics. She decided to pursue a career in paid search marketing, earning the proper certifications.  

Becoming a data expert is much harder than navigating paid search interfaces. While she faced a small learning curve, this candidate demanded a lower salary than others with the same level of expertise — plus, she was more motivated and open to learning than someone making a lateral career move.

Why they’re a great asset:

  • These candidates are highly engaged and motivated to learn. 
  • They offer expertise in harder-to-find skills.

Common misperception:

  • Their background makes them too hard to train for a corporate…

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