3 Reasons Recruiters Shouldn’t Ignore Different Candidates

3 Reasons Recruiters Shouldn't Ignore Candidates with Different Backgrounds

Christine Magnuson competed in swimming internationally and won two silver medals at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, but these accomplishments didn’t guarantee her a job on dry land.

“It is a big adjustment. Finding the right fit after having so much team support and clear goals of is daunting,” Magnuson said when she spoke recently at Glassdoor HQ.

Other Olympians, veterans and candidates with non-traditional work experience face similar transition challenges. They might not know what job titles best suit their skill sets or how their skill sets translate to adding value in the workplace.

But that doesn’t mean you should disqualify them in your candidate search. Here are three reasons you should consider candidates with different backgrounds.

Reason #1: They’ve done their homework - and know what they want.

A career change may not sound like a selling point for candidates. But consider the fact that candidates in a second phase of their working lives bring a valuable perspective on what they “don’t want” from their careers. For one, they’re more likely to be discerning when applying for work, which will help with retention down the line. They’re also more likely to be well researched. A career change is a very intentional decision that most don’t take lightly.

When it came time for Magnuson to enter the workforce, she did her homework to better understand what field would be the best fit for her. “I started networking and talking to people in the athletic world… to have those conversations about what I want to do [and] is there a place for me at this company.”

Candidates like her will be very sure of what they want after having connecting with employers and researching companies and job titles on sites like Glassdoor.

Reason #2: They have perspectives and life experiences that other candidates likely don’t have.

In contrast to candidates that aren’t experiencing a career transition, candidates with a different background or previous career bring experience and knowledge that will be unmatched by traditional candidates moving from company to company within the same job function.

Even if you don’t see that concrete industry or field experience, don’t be so quick to dismiss or overlook the experience they do bring to the table. For example, candidates with different backgrounds may have more experience working cross functionally, think further outside of the box, or simply bring more grit and determination.

“When you’re swimming 30 hours a week and going to meets internationally, you don’t have time to do an internship,” Magnuson said. What candidates from different backgrounds lack in concrete, in-office experience, they can make up for with their unique perspectives.

Reason #3: They may not be used to sitting at a desk, but the skills they do have matter more.

Because candidates with non-traditional backgrounds don’t typically have a technical skill set for the field they enter, they will undoubtedly take more time to onboard and ramp. That said, technical skills are often more teachable than the personal attributes that these candidates offer. After all, personal skills and life experience are extremely desirable in the workplace.  

“I might not check every box that you have, but you need to hire me for this position because I’m going to be a really good fit for what you need to do,” Magnuson said.

A winning approach

Candidates with non-traditional backgrounds that aren’t perfectly aligned with the jobs you’re looking to fill may have you plopping them into the rejection pool without a second look. Instead, do a double take! Candidates with unique backgrounds can add an invaluable perspective to your team, perhaps even a gold medal one.

Looking to recruit an Olympian or anyone with an alternative working background? Post a job on Glassdoor.