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Finding the right person to join your team can be a tough search. The job description may list technical skills and required work experience, but every candidate brings their own combination of interests and capabilities that might serve the position best.
Sometimes, those candidates may have a shorter job history than expected. Maybe they have a multi-year gap in their resume due to staying home with children, or it’s a recent high school graduate with a sole athletic coach listed as a reference. Maybe that person recently changed careers, or used jobs in the service industry as a launchpad to enter a completely different field.
In reality, people with limited work experience can bring so much to the table—but hiring managers can still recruit a few extra tools to feel more assured during the interview process.
How can you hire with confidence when considering candidates with nontraditional work experience?
Focus outside the 9-to-5. When looking through resumes, it’s common practice to look at job history. That’s what resumes are for, right? However, no person is defined solely by a job. You can learn a lot based on how a person spends their time, whether it’s working toward a 7-minute mile, reading one book a week, or organizing the annual school fundraiser. The application for Teach for America, which largely attracts recent college graduates, covers education experience and why a candidate is interested in joining the program. Yet, the interview includes another question: How do you stay organized? No matter the credentials (especially with this young audience), any successful teacher requires a strong framework to handle whatever gets thrown onto their plate.
Your team needs people with a range of skills—clear communicators, big-picture thinkers, subject matter experts—that will come from all types of backgrounds. What’s important is how a person will contribute, whether that’s as a leader or a consensus-builder. Think of it this way: would you rather hire an eager, motivated recent graduate that has to be taught Excel, or someone with Excel experience who has to be taught how to work with a team? Even director-level employees often learn some company-specific technical skills on the job, and that expectation should be extended to lower-experience candidates as well. Give value to all the parts of the resume, not just the work history—and give value still to everything that lives off-paper.
Recruit from targeted sources. Considering the open positions to fill, there may be a certain soft skill or background that feels most fitting. There are likely dedicated job boards, online forums, or even Facebook groups that attract like-minded people with those qualities. Hiring for a summer camp? Seek out hiking communities or crafting sites. Need part-time or remote work? Take into account those with nontraditional working schedules, some of whom you may find on parenting blogs or student hubs. By finding certain audiences, you automatically fill in a blank of their history, giving insightful context to their experiences.
Confirm the fit with a background check. Ideally, when you make a great connection during an interview, you’ve found your match. Say you found an energetic team player with stellar organization skills. The last piece of the puzzle is to confirm their background and ensure you’re putting the right person in the right position. Work toward peace of mind with a background check.
SterlingNOW offers cost-effective background screening with tools and thorough information that employers can trust. The self-service tool lets new users order a first background screen in under five minutes. While there are many options for screening providers, they vary in quality. Some rely exclusively on a quick check of a national database that may have significant gaps. You want a thorough search that includes access to primary sources for criminal records, a Department of Justice Sex Offender search, and verification. Young professionals and recent graduates are likely to have resided in multiple counties during college and their brief careers, so it’s necessary to expand the reach to get the full picture. SterlingNOW offers Locator Select, which uses proprietary technology to figure out where to search. (Lucky for you, SterlingNOW offers special rates to members of OMNIA Partners.)
However, every person’s experience is unique. If the candidate is young, there are only a few years to include in the background check, and not much credit history to link. There may be screens that don’t uncover much information, but this can be a case where little information is a good sign. A lack of a record can be equally as insightful as a detailed one. Either way, this extra step adds some clarity where you may have once had uncertainty.
Every person on your team adds something special. When looking for your next addition, consider all sides of the story—and use these guiding ideas to hire new candidates with confidence.